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Early History 6>/ 
Middle Tennessee 



Copyright, 1908, by Edward Albright 

Brandon Printing Company 

Nashville, Tenn. 


f^ecsived from 
Copyright Office. 

MAY 4 1910 


The history of Tennessee, and especially that of our own 
section of the State, was long sadly neglected, and it is now 
wath the greatest difficulty that many of the isolated facts of tradi- 
tion may be woven into a continuous thread of history. 

The failure of preceding generations to gather and record, 
first-handed, many of the stirring events of early times in the 
Cumberland Valley from those who participated in them., has 
increased the task of the historical writer of to-day. Only 
one other attempt has been made to write a history of Middle 
Tennessee and that was by Col. A. W. Putnam, of Nashville, 
in 1859. From this work I have gathered much valuable infor- 
mation as well as from Carr's Early Times, the histories of the 
State written by Judge Haywood, Dr. Ramsey, Mr. Phelan, Prof. 
McGee, Garrett and Goodpasture, and others. I am also in- 
debted to Imlay's Historical Works, Roosevelt's Winning of 
the West, and Washington Irving's account of Spanish travels. 

Much of the latter-day traditions extant in both Sumner and 
Davidson Counties has been collected and harmonized and to 
the many sources from wdiich this has been gathered I acknowl- 
edge myself indebted. Especially do I desire to express thanks 
to Dr. J. H. McNeilly, of Nashville, Dr. R. V. Foster, of Lebanon, 
and Col. Ruben T. Durrett, of Louisville, for the courtesies and 
help extended and many favors shown. Without the aid of these 
and of others wdio might be mentioned I should have fallen far 
short of the historical accuracy which I believe to be a charac- 
teristic of the forthcoming work: 

For my own gratification as well as for that of coming 
generations, I have gathered the facts presented from every avail- 
able source, and now give them to the public, trusting that 
they may both instruct and entertain, 

Edward Albright. 

Gallatin, Tenn., Jan. 15, 1909. 

Early History of Middle Tennessee 



The first inhabitants of Middle Tennessee belonged to a race 
of people called Mound Builders, because of the mounds or 
monuments they erected and left behind. No one knows from 
whence they came, how long they remained, or whither they 
went. They were quite numerous. This is evident from the 
fact that around many of the lasting springs, and in various 
localities along the water courses, early immigrants found acres 
of graves containing their remains. These burial places gave 
evidence of having been made long before the advent of the 
whites, possibly several hundred years previous to the beginning 
of the 17th century. Though seemingly sound, when exhumed, 
the bones therein crumbled to powder when exposed to the air, 
thus attesting their great age. 

One of these ancient graveyards covered a part of what is 
now Sulphur Spring Bottom in Nashville. Another was located 
in .North .Edgefield. A third was clustered about the mouth 
of Stone's river, above the city, and a fourth^ the largest of 
all, was situated upon the farm of Mr. O. F. Noel, South, ad- 
joining Glendale Park. 

Others w^ere found throughout Sumner County, especially 
at and around Castalian Springs, formerly Bledsoe's Lick. These 
places of interment were also numerous along the Harpeth River 
in Williamson, Cheatham and Dickson Counties. Mounds and 
stone graves are also to be found in Humphreys and Hardin 

It is related of the "Long Hunters," the first organized band 


of adventurers coming to this region, that to them no trace of 
human habitation was visible, the primeval state of things then 
reigning in unrivaled glory. But in dry caves on the side of 
creeks tributary to the Cumberland, down the course of which 
they traveled, they found many places where stones were set 
together, thus covering large quantities of human bones ; these 
were also found far in the caves with which this region yet 
abounds. The conical shaped mounds left throughout Middle 
Tennessee by these early builders afford evidence of industry, 
and also of a measure of skill. They^ too, were used as places 
for burial of the dead, and possibly for religious and military 
purposes as well. At Castalian Springs there may yet be seen 
the remnant of one of these mounds^ which was formerly sur- 
rounded by a low wall or embankment enclosing a small acreage 
of land. This was opened first by General James Winchester 
about a hundred years ago, and within were found a quantity of 
human bones, some broken pottery, a box of red powder, burnt 
corn cobs, and several cedar posts. The latter had doubtless 
constituted part of the framework of a chamber formerly ex- 
isting, but then in decay. At the time of the discovery of 
Bledsoe's Lick there stood on the top of this mound an oak tree 
three feet in diameter, thus indicating that it was then at least 
a century old. 

In the same neighborhood have been found from time to 
time other relics of this pre-historic race. Near the door of a 
storehouse at Castalian Springs there lay for many years the 
carved sandstone image of a human form. This was about two 
feet in length, the arms of which, though partially broken off, 
seemed to have been raised in supplication. The shape of its 
head and the expression of its rude features were foreign, being 
entirely unlike those of the Indians. It was probably an idol once 
used in some form of heathen worship. It was not taken from 


the mound above described, as has been alleged, but was ploughed 
up from a neighboring field. 

Another elevation of similar character in Sumner County is 
located on the farm of Mr. Alexander Kizer^ and stands neat 
the public road leading from Shackle Island to Hendersonville. 
This mound measures thirty-five feet across the top. From the 
south side it is fifty feet in height, having been approached for- 


merly from the north to the summit^ by a slanting roadway 
thrown up from the surrounding soil. At a radius of about a 
hundred yards it is surrounded by the remains of a number of 
smaller mounds. An excavation conducted by Eastern scien- 
tists some years ago disclosed the fact that the latter were used 


as receptacles for the dead, in truth the entire space between 
these and the central mound was covered with graves such as 
those already described. Popular tradition says that ages ago 
these ruins constituted the seat of government of a community 
or tribe of an extinct race ; that the ruler or principal chief dwelt 
on the large elevation, while the lesser ones were used as stations 
by the officers of his council. A more probable theory is that 
the entire arrangement was for use in the ceremonial minutiae 
incident to the burial of their dead. 

Near Nashville, at a point half way between the west bank 
of the river and the north side of old French Lick Creek, stands 
an elevation known as the Charleville mound, so called in honor of 
a French trader who many years before the coming of the 
settlers had a station on its summit. This, too, was opened in 
1 82 1, and found to contain broken pottery, and a piece of oval- 
shaped metal on one side of which was an indented outline of 
the head of a woman. 

In Williamson County a short distance north of Franklin, 
are three mounds of about equal size standing in a row from 
north to south. The remains of others like unto these are to 
be seen also in Warren, Lincoln and Hickman Counties. Near 
Manchester in Coffee County under the shadow of the great 
dividing range of the Cumberland Mountains stands an old moss 
covered stone fort which is yet in a partial state of preservation. 
Builded in the long ago it is without even a tradition to disclose 
its identity. Its architects are now in that happy hunting ground 
from whose bourn no traveler has yet returned. The Indians 
met by the pioneers on the arrival of the latter in Middle Ten- 
nessee could give no information as to the origin of these antiqui- 
ties, all of which they held in great veneration, but were content 
to say that they had been here always. 

At the discovery of this region, its soil, which was covered by 


thick cane-brakes and forest trees of mammoth size, seemed 
never to have been broken by cultivation. 

We are, therefore, left in ignorance as to the means by which 
the Mound Builders supplied themselves with food and clothing. 

They had undoubtedly attained a degree of civilization, but 
despite all that has been written upon the subject, a large part 
of which is mere fiction, there is little to indicate that they were 
highly civilized, or to a great extent acquainted with the arts 
of more recent progress. Modern scientists have cast aside many 
of the mysterious theories with which the existence of the Mound 
Builders was long enshrouded, and now believe that they were 
simply the ancestors of the American Indians, the latter through 
the lapse of many centuries having degenerated into the low 
state of civilization in which they were found by the early dis- 



Following the Mound Builders came the Shawnees, who 
were the first tribe of Indians to settle in Middle Tennessee. 
They journeyed from a region surrounding the Great Lakes 
about 1650 and built their villages along the banks of the Cum- 
berland. The boundaries of this settlement extended north to 
what is now the Kentucky line, and as far west as the Tennessee 
River. Until the time of their coming the country now compris- 
ing Kentucky and Middle Tennessee had been held as neutral 
territory by the Indians, and was used as a common hunting 
ground by the Iroquois on the north, and by the tribes composing 
the Mobilian race on the south. Chief among the latter were 
the Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws and Scminoles. 


The Shawnees were of the Algonquin race, a part of the 
powerful Iroquois Confederacy, and are called by historians the 
''Gypsies of the Forest." There was among them a tradition 
that their ancestors were of foreign birth, and had come to /Vmer- 
ica from over the seas. Until a short time previous to their 
advent into the region of the Cumberland, they had made yearly 
sacrifice in thanksgiving for their safe arrival after a long and 
dangerous voyage. They had been once wealthy and powerful, 
but following a natural inclination to rove, were now weakened 
by division into bands, some one of which at various times sub- 
sequent thereto resided in almost every portion of the United 
States. The Indians with whom they came in contact having no 
written language and no definite rules of pronunciation called 
them by various names, such as Shawnees, Sewanees, Suwanos. 
Savannahs, Satanas, and many others of like sound. These 
names the Shawnees generously gave to the villages, rivers and 
mountains of the land through which they traveled. While 
living along the Cumberland they explored the whole of Middle 
Tennessee and gave their name to Sewanee Mountain, on which 
is now located the University of the South. 

Another tradition, if true, explains their location on the 
Cumberland. According to this legend a large party of them 
were moving south in search of new fields of adventure. Arriv- 
ing at Cumberland Gap in East Tennessee they halted for rest, 
and in order that they might take council as to a future course 
After much discussion it was found they could not agree as 
to the latter, whereupon a part of the band pursued the wel) 
known trace through the mountains of East Tennessee south 
into Georgia and Florida, while the other portion directed its 
journey toward the west, thus founding the settlement above 

However, the stay of the Shawnees in the valley of the Cum- 
berland was comparatively of short duration. Angered by such 


a continued occupancy of the common hunting ground, the Cher- 
okees, Creeks and Chickasaws, their nearest neighbors, laid plans 
for their expulsion. After a short but bloody war the Shawnees 
were driven north and became again a wandering tribe among 
the Iroquois. By the generosity of the victors they were allowed 
a return to the hunting ground during the winter season of 
each year, but were forbidden to remain after dogwood blossoms 
appeared. The date of this war, probably the first in a region 
which has since been the scene of many bloody conflicts, is not 
now definitely fixed. In the year 1788, Piomingo, the Mountain 
Leader, famous Chickasaw chief, and friend of the whites, came 
from his village near the present site of ^Memphis to visit the 
settlers at Bledsoe's Lick, ^^llile there he told the latter that 
the expulsion of the Shawnees from the Cumberland \ alley took 
place in 1682. He said that the length of his life at the time 
of this visit had been "a hundred and six snows," and that he 
was born the year the war occurred. His father, himself a noted 
Chickasaw chief, was killed in one of the battles incident to the 
contest. Piomingo also vouchedsafe the information that before 
the attacking forces would venture to engage the Shawnees in 
battle they held themselves a long time in readiness awaiting a 
signal from the Great Spirit. At length it came in the rumblings 
of an earthquake which, as Piomingo said, "broke open the 
mountains and shook the rocks from their places of rest." The 
settlers associated this tradition with an account given by their 
ancestors of an earthquake which occurred about the year 1685. 

It is quite probable that small, roving bands of these nomads 
continued to make headquarters near the present location of 
Nashville for some years after the main force had been driven 
away. The Shawnees were the last permanent Indian residents 
of Middle Tennessee, but the latter continued to be held as com- 
mon property by the neighboring tribes until the white settlers 
came upon the scene a hundred years later. 



For more than two hundred years after the discovery of 
America by Columbus in 1492, with perhaps one exception, no 
European adventurer set foot upon the soil of Middle Tennessee. 
This possible exception we shall now notice. 

By reason of the successful voyage of Columbus, and a few 
subsequent discoveries by his fellow countrymen, Spain claimed 
the whole of North America. Following the return of these 
expeditions there were circulated throughout the Spanish domain 
the most extravagant stories of the wealth and beauty of this 
new found land, and numerous parties were formed for its 
exploration and conquest. In 15 12 Ponce De Leon, a Spaniard, 
crossed the Atlantic at the head of a company and landed on 
the southern extremity of the continent. He named the country 
Florida, because of the abundance of wild flowers growing along 
its shores and also because the discovery was made on Palm 
Sunday. For many years thereafter all the country south of the 
island of Newfoundland was called Florida. The object of this 
expedition led by Ponce De Leon was the discovery of a fabled 
fountain of youth^ said by the mystics to be located within the 
interior of the continent. It was confidently believed by the 
Spaniards that those who were so fortunate as to drink from 
this source would enjoy perpetual youth. Before they had long 
pursued their journey, however, they found instead, death from 
wounds inflicted by poisoned arrows from the bows of hostile 
Indians. At intervals for twenty-six years thereafter other Span- 
ish explorers visited America for purposes of spoil and conquest 
but returned without evidence of success. 

Ferdinand De Soto was a renowned Spanish soldier of for- 
tune who had served with Pizarro in the conquest of Peru. In 


1538, under the patronage of the emperor, Charles V, this vet- 
eran warrior hegan the organization of a company for the pur- 
pose of exploring Florida. His patron, the emperor, had but 
recently ascended the throne of Spain, which was now the most 
powerful monarchy in all Europe, uniting as it did under one 
scepter ''the infantry of Spain, the looms of Flanders, and the 
gold of Peru." Thus with unlimited resources at his command, 
De Soto soon found himself leading a company of nine hundred 
and fifty adventurers. 

Ramsey says that ''the chivalry, rank and wealth of Spain 
entered into this army," and Irving declares that "never had a 
more gallant and brilliant body of men offered themselves for 
the new world." Many of them, though of immense wealth, 
had made disposition of all, and in reckless disregard of the fu- 
ture had invested the proceeds in this enterprise, some bringing 
over their wives and children together with a retinue of servants. 
On board ship when they sailed from Spain, were three hundred 
and fifty horses and mules and a herd of swine, the latter the first 
of their kind yet brought to America. Arriving at Havana, Cuba, 
during the month of May, 1538, a year was spent in further 
preparation for the journey into the interior of the continent. 

Having added here fifty recruits to their number, they again 
set sail, landing at Santo Bay on the west coast of Florida, May 
27, 1539- From thence a few days later they marched bravely 
into an unknown region. A majority of these adventurers were 
yet in the springtime of life, and cared but little for fountains of 
youth. Instead, they were searching for cities of silver and gold, 
the glittering battlements of which they fancied now hidden away 
within the region they were about to invade. If in the days of 
our youth^ over field and fen we have trudged in fruitless search 
of a pot of gold at the end of a fitful rainbow, we have already an 
idea of the disappointment which at every turn awaited these 


credulous wanderers. For two years they traveled hither and 
thither through the Southern States, deluded by savage deceit 
and beset by savage foe. However, the latter were not altogether 
the aggressors. De Soto and his officers had been trained in 
a bad school of warfare, and in turn their treatment of the natives 
was in many instances both treacherous and cruel in the extreme. 
On the Savannah River at the present site of Silver Bluff, Georgia, 
they came upon the village of a beautiful Indian princess, the 
ruler of a large domain. When informed of their approach she 
ordered no resistance, but going at once to the camp of the 
Spaniards, made a peace offering of blankets and shawls and 
such other supplies as she possessed. Taking from her neck a 
string of pearls, she gave them to De Soto, at the same time 
offering to him and his followers the freedom of her realm. They 
accepted this invitation, and after remaining at the village for a 
month, rewarded the kindness of the princess by taking her cap- 
tive and leading her in chains on foot behind them as they trav- 
eled through the surrounding provinces. At length she escaped 
and returned to her subjects, remaining forever thereafter a bitter 
enemy of the whites. This incident is but an example of many 
others of like character. 

In the early spring of 1541, the army came by some route to 
the Chickasaw Bluffs, the present site of Memphis, and there 
De Soto discovered the Mississippi River. 

Because of the unfamiliar Indian names used by the historian 
of this expedition we are now unable to locate, with certainty, 
all the mountains, rivers and villages by, over and through which 
they passed en route. That at some period of the journey they 
visited the Muscle Shoals of the Tennessee River in Northern 
Alabama is supposed by reason of the location there of two 
ancient forts or camps, more recently identified as of Spanish con- 
struction. The names of some of the villages and the numerous 


crossings of streams have led to the behef that they traveled also 
through a portion of East Tennessee, the line of march being 
from North Georgia through Polk, ]\IcMinn and Monroe Counties 
to the foot of the Chilhowee mountains ; thence west and south- 
west, crossing the Tennessee River near Chattanooga, and from 
thence into Middle Tennessee. Canasauga, Talisse, and Se- 
quachie, all mentioned by the Spanish historian in connection 
with this part of the journey, are now familiar names in the 
locality mentioned. They camped for a while at the foot of the 
mountains which are supposed to be the modern Chilhowee. 
Around the base of these there flowed a small but rapid river, 
which properly describes the Little Tennessee. Leaving there 
''the first day's march westward was through a country covered 
with fields of maize of luxuriant growth." During the next five 
days they traversed a "chain of easy mountains covered with oak 
and mulberry trees, with intervening valleys, rich in pasturage 
and irrigated by clear and rapid streams." When at the rate of 
ten miles a day they had journeyed for sixty miles, they came 
to a village which "stood in a pleasant spot bordered by small 
streams which took their rise in the adjacent mountains." These 
streams "soon mingled their waters and thus formed a grand and 
powerful river," probably the Tennessee. Turning now from 
a westerly course they resumed their journey along the bank of 
this stream toward the south. Eighty miles below they discov- 
ered a village on the opposite shore to which they crossed in 
many rafts and canoes which they prepared for that purpose. 
Here their wornout horses were for a season allowed to enjoy 
rich and abundant pasturage in the neighboring meadows. While 
in this retreat the Indians showed them how to obtain pearls 
from oysters or muscles, taken from the river. If the theory ad- 
vanced be true, the village mentioned was near the present site of 
Chattanooga, and beneath the shadow of the overhanging cliffs 


of Lookout Mountain, a locality which for ages was the haunt 
of the Aborigines. 

The mountains, the rivers, the distances traveled, and the 
pearls all tend to establish the route indicated. From this place 
they crossed the mountains westward. Martin's history of Louis- 
iana suggests that from thence they passed entirely through Mid- 
dle Tennessee and into Southern Kentucky, in which event their 
journey lay through Maury, Rutherford, Davidson and Sumner 

It is not unreasonable to suppose that the natives with whom 
they conversed during the first of their travels had not failed to 
lure this band of plumed and armored pilgrims searching for 
mystic treasures into a region so fruitful of legend. By the 
glens of the far-famed Hiwassee, under the sheltering coves of the 
Chilhowees and Lookout, on the ancient forest-covered crest and 
slopes of the Cumberlands, and into the darkened ravines and 
beautiful valleys beyond ; on every hand might be uncovered se- 
cret portals to hidden treasures. These once discovered, they 
would return in triumph to Spain and there with sparkling jewels 
dazzle the eyes of their less hardy countrymen. 

From the top of every mountain range stretching itself 
athwart their chosen route, their scouts might gaze eagerly for 
a glimpse of silver-paved and gold-domed cities with which a 
vivid imagination had vested an unknown land. 

After crossing with his band the Mississippi at Memphis and 
traversing a region afterwards called the "Great American Des- 
ert," De Soto died in Louisiana a year later in a lonely glade 
near the mouth of Red River. Wrapping his body in a cloak a 
few of his officers rowed out at midnight to the middle of the 
Mississippi and there buried their gallant commander in the 
waters of the mighty river he had discovered. The hour selected 
was because of the purpose of the Spaniards to conceal from the 


natives among whom they were encamped the knowledge of De 
Soto's death. The latter had told the Indians who came every 
day to his tent that he was from the land of the Great Spirit, and 
therefore would never die. 

The expedition now^ ended in disaster, having already lost by 
disease and warfare more than two-thirds of its original number. 



From the expulsion of the Shawnees to the coming of the white 
settlers in 1779 the region now embraced in Middle Tennessee 
was indeed a hunter's paradise. Through its valleys and over 
its hills roamed countless herds of buffalo, deer, and elk. Within 
its forests and canebrakes bears, wolves, panthers, bob-cats, foxes, 
and other wild animals in great numbers found a home. Besides 
the food necessary for each they must also have salt. The pro- 
vision made by nature for this essential was the saline water of 
the sulphur springs with which the country yet abounds. In 
times of overflow these springs left on the surrounding ground a 
slight deposit of salt, and over this the beasts would tramp and 
lick until often long trenches or furrows were made, sometimes 
over several acres. Thus were formed the "licks" which played 
so important a part in determining the location of early forts. 
Sulphur sj)rings and the accompanying "licks" were especially 
numerous in Sumner and Davidson Counties. To this fact, to- 
gether with the close proximity of these counties to the Cumber- 
land River is largely due their selection as a location by the 
pioneers. The big sulphur spring in the bottom now within the 
corporate limits of Nashville, no doubt determined the location 
of that city. 


To the licks in the region now embraced in Sumner and David- 
son came at regular intervals the animals from over a large terri- 
tory, and these in their journeys to and fro formed beaten paths 
or trails, all centering in this locality like the spokes of a wheel. 
As with the ancients all roads led to Rome, so with the con- 
querors of this boundless and uninhabited wilderness, all traces 
led to central licks which spots were destined to become the 
scene of earliest activity. Hunters, both Indian and white, roam- 
ing at will through the forests came upon these narrow paths, 
and turning about threaded them to the end. Here these mighty 
Nimrods fell upon and mercilessly slaughtered the game, large 
and small, which was usually found assembled in great abundance. 
After feeding upon the flesh of the slain animals, they carried 
away the hides or pelts from which they made clothing for them- 
selves and their families, and in the case of the Indian hunter, 
covering for their tents, or "tepees." Such as were not thus 
applied to personal use were sold for trade in the colonies east of 
the mountains^ or for export to the countries of Europe. 

In the course of time as a result of the natural evolution and 
growth of traffic, foreign-made clothing, blankets, boots and 
shoes, wares and trinkets were brought by enterprising traders 
to such localities and there exchanged for pelts. The Indian 
hunter, who, in such transactions, was sure of the worst of the 
bargain, readily exchanged the most valuable buffalo robe for a 
string of glass beads or a daub of red paint with which to be- 
streak his visage when he went forth to war. 

The French were the earliest tradesmen in Middle Tennessee. 
The first of these to appear was a young man, Charles Charleville 
by name, who, in 17 14, built his post on a mound near the present 
site of Nashville. This mound has been mentioned already in 
connection with a sketch of the Mound Builders. Here, besides 
the hunting and trapping done by himself and his companions, an 

£ARLY history of middle TENNESSEE 19 

extensive trade was carried on with the savage hunters from all 
the tribes frequenting the hunting ground. However, Charle- 
ville's station did not long remain, and in 1740 Middle Tennessee 
was again without a single white resident. The establishment of 
this and subsequent posts by men of the same nationality gave to 
the locality around Nashville the name, French Lick^ by which it 
was known to early historians. Some of the old logs from the 
walls of the Charleville storehouse were found on the mound 
by the settlers who came to Nashville sixty-five years later. 

From the departure of Charleville and his band to the year 
1748, no white adventurer came to disturb the peaceful serenity 
of the hunting ground, but in the latter part of that year Dr. 
Thomas Walker led a party of hunters across the mountains from 
Virginia. Walker was an explorer and surveyor of renown, and 
is described as a man of mark among the pioneers. With his com- 
pany came Colonels Wood, Patton and Buchanan, and Captain 
Charles Campbell. After giving the name Cumberland to the 
lofty range of mountains crossed, they pursued their journey by 
way of Cumberland Gap through the counties of Campbell, Scott, 
Fentress, Overton and Jackson. Finding a beautiful mountain 
stream flowing across their course they called it Cumberland 
River in honor of the Duke of Cumberland, who was then Prime 
Minister of England. The latter had taken his title from the 
county of Cumberland, a picturesque region of lakes and moun- 
tains in the northern portion of his native land. Previous to this 
time Cumberland River had been called Warioto by the Indians 
and Shauvanon by the French traders. It is probable that Walk- 
er's party hunted along the river as far as French Lick, and 
from thence returned to Virginia through Kentucky. 




Late in the autumn of 1760 a strange craft appeared on the 
Cumberland just below French Lick. With a single sail flutter- 
ing from a low mast it was creeping up with noiseless motion 
along the western bank of the river. On deck stood a tall, ath- 
letic man with broad shoulders, long arms, and an eagle eye. 
Over his face was an expression of daring and adventure. He 
was clothed in a blue cotton hunting shirt with red waistcoat, 
and leggins of deer skin, and on his head he wore a fox-skin cap 
with the tail hanging down his back. With him were several 
companions. The craft proved to be a French trading boat 
heavily ladened with wares and merchandise, and the strangely 
attired individual in command was Timothy DeiMonbreun, a 
French soldier who had come to establish a post in the Wilderness, 
as the Cumberland country was then called. 

The Indian hunters loitering on the bluff wdiere Nashville's 
countless mills and factories now stand had never before seen a 
vessel like this, and supposing it to be a ''war boat from the 
Great Spirit's lake" prostrated themselves in an attitude of hum- 
ble worship. 

Slowly the party moved up the river, and on coming to a 
small tributary now known as Lick branch, they decided to enter 
and trace it to its source. A little way up they found a spring 
and around it the tracks of much buffalo, bear and deer. At this 
spring they landed, cooked their evening meal, and retired for 
the night, sleeping on their arms lest they might be attacked by 
the natives. However, they were undisturbed, and in the morn- 
ing after having stretched a line between two trees, they hung 
out bright red blankets, strings of heads, shining trinkets and 
other articles with which to attract the Indians. They were care- 
ful to show by their actions that the mission on which they had 


come was one of peace, and made such signs as they were able 
indicating a desire to trade their wares for pelts and furs, such 
as the savages possessed. 

DeMonbreun had come to Canada with the army of his native 
land during the war between England and France. He fought 
bravely at the battle of Quebec, which took place on the Plains 
of Abraham in 1759, and upon the restoration of peace con- 
cluded to make America his home. In the spring of 1760 he 
journeyed from Quebec to Kaskaskia, Illinois, and thence to the 
French Lick. His trade wdth the Indians proved profitable, and 
here, except at brief intervals, he spent the remainder of his 
life. For some years he lived during the winter months in a cave 
above Nashville on the bank of the Cumberland between the 
mouth of Stone's River and Mill Creek. After the first season 
his family came to live with him in the cave, and here was born 
his son, William DelVIonbreun, long an honored citizen of Wih 
liamson County, where some years ago he died, leaving a large 
family and a fine estate. William DeMonbreun was probably the 
first white child born in Middle Tennessee. 

In the summer of each year DeMonbreun, the elder, would 
return to Kaskaskia, taking with him a cargo of bufifalo hides 
and furs w^hich had been laid by in store during the winter and 
spring. Later he would come back to his station with a new 
supply of goods for the trade of the following season. 

At the beginning of the Nashville settlement he built two 
cabins of cedar logs ; one near the northeast corner of the Pub- 
lic Square, and the other at the juncture of Broad and College 
Streets. The first was used as a storehouse and the other as a 
dwelling for himself and family. Later he erected a farmhouse 
on Broad Street near High, and in this he died in 1826, at the 
advanced age of ninety-six years. It was in honor of this brave 
and venerable pioneer that the city of Nashville gave the name 
''DeMonbreun" to one of its principal streets. 




The solitude that for ages had rested like a protecting can- 
opy over the great national park of the Red man was again 
about to be disturbed. The fame thereof had crossed the moun 
tains and reached the fartherest limits of the colonies, now slowly 
but surely turning the tide of emigration this way. 

A party of men known as ''Wallen's Company," composed of 
Wallen, Scaggs, Blevins and Cox, together with fifteen others 
whose names are unknown, came over in 1763. This company 
had been formed in Virginia two years before for the purpose of 
exploration and trade, and had spent two winters thereafter in 
Kentucky and East Tennessee. This season they followed the 
route previously taken by Dr. Walker and party in 1748. Pass- 
ing through Cumberland Gap they hunted during the whole sum- 
mer along the Cumberland River^ later recrossing the mountains 
with an abundance of game. 

In 1764 Daniel Boone, the renowned hunter and explorer, who 
is popularly accredited with having led the vanguard of civiliza- 
tion into western wilds, came on a short expedition into the east- 
ern portion of Middle Tennessee. Boone was a typical pioneer, 
loving as he did the solitude of the forest and usually making 
his journeys alone. On this occasion, however, he had with him 
his kinsman, Samuel Callaway, the ancestor of a distinguished 
family by that name, pioneers of Tennessee, Kentucky and Mis- 
souri. As they came in sight of the Cumberland Valley Boone 
looked down from the summit of the mountain on the vast herds 
of buffalo grazing beneath and exclaimed : "I am richer than 
the man mentioned in the Scriptures who owned the cattle on a 
thousand hills, for I own the wild beasts of more than a thou- 
sand valleys." At this time Boone's home was upon the Yadkin 


River in North Carolina, whither he had moved from Virginia 
many years before. He returned to the Cumberland in 1771, 
and later played an important part in the settlement of Kentucky. 
With the establishment of courts of justice at the admission of the 
latter State into the Union in 1792, Boone lost possession of nearly 
all the lands he had secured in Kentucky, his titles thereto 
being contested and declared invalid. Disgusted at this treat- 
ment by the commonwealth he had done so much to found, he 
emigrated to Missouri and built for his abode a cabin in the 
wilderness forty-five miles west of St. Louis. There he remained 
until his death in 1822. By order of the Legislature of Kentucky 
his remains were removed to Frankfort in 1845, and re-interred 
in the city cemetery on a beautiful site above the Kentucky Rivei 
and now just across the valley from the new capitol building. 
Above this new grave a fitting monument was erected^ on either of 
the four sides of which were scenes wrought in bas-relief, com- 
memorating the heroic deeds of Boone's eventful life. This mon 
ument still stands, though now much defaced by the ravages of 
time and the hand of the vandal. Other monuments to the mem- 
ory of Boone have since been located at various places through 
out Kentucky, notable among these being a statue in Cherokee 
Park at Louisville, the latter a gift to the city by Mr. C. C. Bickel. 
Following Boone and Callaway came Henry Scraggins, who ex- 
plored the lower Cumberland in 1765, and for a while had a 
station near the present site of Goodlettsville in Davidson County. 
Of him but little is known save that he was a representative of 
Henderson & Company, of North Carolina, who were large deal- 
ers in western lands^ and of whom we shall learn more later on. 
The exploratiohs made by Scraggins were the most extensive yet 
undertaken west of the mountains. During the summer of 1766 
Col. James Smith, accompanied by Joshua Horton, William Baker 
and Uriah Stone came hither for the purpose of exploring along 


the Cumberland and Tennessee. Some of this party were from 
the north, Baker being from Carlisle, Pennsylvania. They en- 
tered the region they proposed to traverse by way of East Ten- 
nessee, having first explored the Holston Valley. They brought 
with them a mulatto slave, a boy about eighteen years old, the 
property of Horton, and the first slave ever seen in Middle Ten- 
nessee. Stones River^ near Nashville, was explored, and named 
by this party, being so called in honor of Uriah Stone. They 
traversed a large portion of the section now include'd in Sumner 
and Davidson Counties, and then going west, followed the course 
of the Tennessee River to its mouth at Paducah, Kentucky. 
There they separated. Smith, with the slave for company and 
protection, returned to North Carolina, The other members of 
the party went north into Illinois. Uriah Stone returned the 
following year^ and in partnership with a Frenchman, spent the 
season trapping on Stones River. One day late in the spring 
when they were loading their boat with furs preparatory for a 
journey to market, the Frenchman, in the absence of his partner, 
stole off with the boat and cargo. Stone having thus lost the 
fruits of several months ofdabor returned empty-handed to his 
home in Virginia. 

Next in order came Isaac Lindsay and four others from South 
Carolina. They crossed the Alleghanies westward and hunted 
along the Cumberland as far as French Lick. Here they met 
Michael Stoner and a companion named Harrod, both of whom 
lived in Pittsburg, having come by way of Illinois on their way 
to the hunting ground. These parties were hunting for pleasure, 
and met by accident. It is quite probable that each also had an 
eye on valuable tracts of land upon which, in the future, they 
hoped to obtain concessions. After remaining together for some 
time in the region about French Lick they separated and returned 
to their respective homes. Later on Lindsay was an important 
factor in the early settlement at Nashville. 




The year 1769 witnessed the coming of the largest party of 
white men yet seen in Middle Tennessee. They were organized 
in Jime for the purpose of hunting game and exploring in the 
country west of the mountains^ and were afterwards called ''Long 
Hunters" because of the length of time they were away. Among 
them were Kasper Mansker, John Rains, Abraham Bledsoe, John 
Baker, Joseph Drake, James Knox, Obadiah Terrill, Uriah Stone, 
Henry Smith, Ned Cowan, Robert Crockett, Thomas Gordon, 
Cash Brook and Humphrey Hogan. Some of these were from 
North Carolina, some from the neighborhood of Natural Bridge, 
and others from a small settlement near Inglis' Ferry, Virginia. 
The party was well equipped with guns, ammunition and all other 
supplies necessary for a protracted hunting and exploring expedi- 

After having met at the town of New River in southwestern 
Virginia, they proceeded to the head of Holston River, traversing 
the north fork of same. Traveling on from thence they crossed 
Clinch and Powell Rivers, and passing on by way of Cumberland 
Gap, journeyed through Kentucky to the headwaters of Cumber- 
land River. Proceeding down this stream they camped at a 
place since called Price's Meadow in Wayne County, Kentucky, 
six or seven miles from the present site of Monticello. This camp 
they agreed to make a station or rendezvous, for the deposit of 
their game and peltries. The hunters then dispersed in many 
directions, a part of them crossing what is now the Tennessee 
line, and exploring the country as far south as Caney Fork River 
and along its tributaries in Putnam, White and DeKalb counties. 
Most of the hunting, however, was done on Roaring and Obey 
Rivers in Clay, Jackson, Overton and Pickett Counties. Obey 


River, as it is now called, was at that time given its name, the 
same being in honor of Obadiah Terrill, a member of the party. 

A sad event of this outing was the death of Robert Crockett 
which occurred on the headwaters of Roaring River in Overton 
County. While returning to camp at nightfall he was fired upon 
and killed by a band of six or eight Indians who were hid in 
ambush. This is the first recorded death suflfered by the whites 
at the hands of the Indians in the territory now embraced in 
Middle Tennessee. 

The country at this time abounded in small game, and the 
expedition was very successful. The entire landscape was cov- 
ered with high grass, tall trees and low undergrowth, the whole 
forming a boundless wilderness hitherto untrodden by the foot 
of civilization. Most of the game they got by what was called 
"still hunting." Some deer, however, was killed after having 
been lured within gun shot by imitating the bleat of a fawn. 
Some also were fired upon from scaffolds when they came to the 
salt licks at night. In mid-winter the hunters donned snow-shoes 
and followed the practice of ''crusting" the game — that is, run- 
ning it down in the snow. Of this practice, however, many of 
the hunters did not approve. 

They continued in the region above mentioned until the spring 
of 1770, when some of them returned home. Others, led by 
James Knox, went further north into the Kentucky country where 
they hunted for a season before recrossing the mountains. The 
remainder, consisting of Stone, Baker, Gordon, Brook, Hogan 
and three or four others, all under the leadership of Kasper 
Mansker, having built two flat-boats, and hollowed out of logs 
two pirogues, or dug-out canoes, began a river journey with the 
proceeds of the hunt to Natchez, Mississippi. On their way down 
the Cumberland they stopped at French Lick, the present site of 
Nashville. There they saw enormous herds of buffalo, elk and 


deer, and great quantities of other game. The country surround- 
ing was crowded with wild animals, the bellowings of the buffalo 
resounding from the hills and forests. They had found but little 
big game in the upper country, so some of this they now killed, 
and of the hides made coverings for their boats. At this place 
also they met Timothy DeMonbreun, who, as before related, had 
erected his trading station there ten years before. This visit by 
Mansker to French Lick marked his advent into a region in the 
subsequent settlement of which he was destined to play a con- 
spicuous part. 

Rowing on down the river they came at length to the Ohio. 
There some of their boats were looted by a band of Indians, but 
Mansker and his party fell in with some French traders who were 
generously inclined, and in return for what they had lost, gave 
them a supply of flour, salt, tobacco, and taffa, the latter a drink 
which was especially prized. 

Proceeding down the Ohio and Mississippi they arrived in 
due season at Natchez, then an outpost of the Spanish headquar- 
ters at New Orleans. There they sold their cargo, consisting of 
hides, furs, oil and tallow, after which Mansker and Baker re- 
turned to their home at New River, Virginia. Others went 
around by ship to North Carolina, and the remnant of the party 
settled in Natchez. Those who returned to the colonies gave 
such glowing accounts of the abundance of game and fertility 
of the soil on the Cumberland that the desire for western explora- 
tion became very intense. 

At Natchez Uriah Stone found his boat which had been 
stolen from him by the Frenchman on Stones river several years 
before. The latter had descended to that place by water and then 
disposed of the boat and cargo, departing thence for parts un- 



MANSKER's party. first INDIAN KILLED. 

In the fall of 1771 Kasper Mansker led another party of 
adventurers into the wilds of Tennessee. Among them were 
Isaac Bledsoe, John Montgomery, Joseph Drake, James Knox, 
Henry Suggs, William Allen, Christopher Stoph, and William 
and David Lynch. There was with them also an old hunter 
named Russell whose eyesight was so poor that he was obliged 
to fasten a piece of white paper on the muzzle of his gun in 
order that he might thus direct his sight to the game. Despite 
this hindrance, however, he killed a large number of deer. 

Arriving at what is now Sumner County, Mansker's party 
pitched its station or camp close to a creek near where Dr. Ander- 
son formerly resided, on' the turnpike leading from Gallatin to 
Nashville. It was in this way that Station Camp Creek got its 
name. This camp was made headquarters for the party, while 
they hunted over Sumner, Robertson, Davidson, Wilson, Smith 
and Trousdale Counties. The winter was exceedingly cold, and 
they built skin houses for protection from the ice and snow. 
Some one of the hunters was usually left behind to guard the 
stores. However, on one occasion when all were away on the 
chase, a party of twenty-five Cherokee Indians made a raid on 
the camp. They carried away all the pots, kettles and ammuni- 
tion they could find, besides about five hundred deer skins, and 
a large amount of clothing. The trail by which they came into 
camp was plainly to be seen, but they were careful to leave none 
on their retreat. It is supposed that they left the camp singly 
in different directions, or waded up stream in Station Camp 

During this memorable hunt many of the licks and streams 
of this locality took the name of their discoverers, which names 
thev have since retained. Among these are Mansker's Lick and 



Mansker's Creek^ Bledsoe's Lick and Bledsoe's Creek, Drake's 
Lick and Drake's Creek, so called in honor of Kasper Mansker 
the leader of the party, Lsaac Bledsoe and Joseph Drake. At 
other periods in the history of early explorations Stoner's Lick 
and Stoner's Creek were named in honor of Michael Stoner, a 
Dutchman from Pittshurg, previously mentioned. Flinn's Lick 


and Flinn's Creek were discovered by George Flinn. Barton's 
Creek in Wilson County was so named in honor of Col. Samuel 

This year, as in that preceding, the country was full of all 
kinds of game, large and small. When Isaac Bledsoe discovered 


the lick which bears his name, the location of which was the 
present site of Castalian Springs, the herds of buffalo in the 
bottoms surrounding the sulphur spring were so numerous that 
he was afraid to alight from his horse lest he might be trampled 
beneath the hoofs of the restless beasts. 

Mansker discovered two licks near Goocllettsville, they being 
distinguished as the Upper and Lower. They were about three 
hundred yards apart. On the day this discovery was made Mans- 
ker is said to have killed nineteen deer in passing along the path 
from one to the other. At length the ammunition of the party 
was exhausted, and having already enjoyed the fruits of a most 
successful hunt they took the long trail for their homes east of 
the mountains, arriving late in the spring. 

In company with other hunters, two of whom were named 
Bryant, Mansker came a third time to the Cumberland country 
in November, 1775. Traveling the well known route through 
Cumberland Gap^ and passing down through the river counties 
the party camped at Mansker's Lick, which had been discovered 
by the latter in 177 1. Most of them soon returned to Virginia, 
but Mansker and three others whose names are unknown to 
history, remained at the camp and began hunting and trapping on 
Sulphur Fork and Red River in Robertson and Montgomery 
Counties. Finding that a party of Blackfish Indians were hunt- 
ing in the same neighborhood the whites thought it the part of 
wisdom to discover their number and the location of their camp. 
Mansker was selected as the spy and proceeding forthwith on 
his mission, came upon the rendezvous of the Indians near the 
bank of Red River. Slipping nearer and nearer from tree to 
tree he soon came in full view and discovered there were only 
two of them in the camp. These were seated on the ground by 
the fire; the rest of the party he supposed were hunting in the 
distance. He decided to remain in hiding and await their return. 
A few moments later one of the Indians arose and taking his 


tomahawk crossed the river to the opposite shore. The other 
shouldered a gun and started directly toward the tree behind 
which Mansker was standing. That was an eventful moment in 
the life of this mighty hunter, but there was no alternative. 
Mansker leveled his rifle and shot the Indian through the body. 
The latter gave a yell, threw down his gun, turned, and rushing 
by the camp pitched headlong down the bluff, dead, into the 
river. Mansker and the Indian on the other bank of the stream 
then had a race for the camp, but Mansker outran his adversary, 
and seizing a gun which had been left on the ground tried to fire, 
but it flashed in the pan and the Indian made his escape. Mans- 
ker broke the gun and returned with all haste to his companions. 
Next morning they all went back to the camp, but found that 
during the night the surviving warrior had returned, recovered 
and buried the body of his dead comrade, and loading his horse 
with furs and the camp utensils had gone toward the west. They 
followed him for a long distance, but finally gave up the chase. 
Returning to the camp at Mansker's Lick the hunters soon there^ 
after began their journey to Virginia. The Indian killed in this 
affray was probably the first of his race to be killed by the whites 
in Middle Tennessee. 



Thomas Sharp Spencer came next as an adventurer into the 
Cumberland Valley. Having heard from his neighbors, Mansker 
and Bledsoe, of the rich lands and abundance of big game 
throughout this region he came over from his home in Virginia 
in the spring of 1776. Besides other companions he brought with 
him a man named Holliday, and together they fixed a station at 
Bledsoe's Lick, probably having been directed hither by Isaac 
Bledsoe, who had discovered it several years before. 


During the summer following, Spencer and . Holliday hunted 
over and explored the country for many miles around. In the 
bottom adjoining Bledsoe's Lick they cleared a few acres of land 
which they planted in corn. This they cultivated and gathered 
in autumn, thus being the first crop of grain raised in Middle 

Later on Holliday became dissatisfied and decided to return 
to Virginia. Spencer accompanied him to the Barrens of Ken- 
tucky, near where Glasgow now stands, and through which in 
those days there ran a trail leading back across the mountains. 
When they had bidden each other adieu and were about to 
separate, Holliday discovered that he had lost his hunting knife, 
whereupon Spencer broke his own knife in two and gave half of 
it to his departing comrade. The latter was never heard from 
thereafter and it is supposed he was killed by the Indians on his 
journey homeward. 

Spencer returned to Bledsoe's Lick and spent the winter alone 
in a hollow sycamore tree which stood in the bottom near the 
present site of the postoffice at Castalian Springs. This tree 
perished many years ago, but so long as it stood it was called by 
the settlers ''Spencer's House." Some time after the events above 
mentioned Spencer went back to Virginia, his native State, but 
returned to the Cumberland country in 1780. 

During the time of his residence in the sycamore tree he ex- 
plored the country side from Bledsoe's Lick to the mouth of 
Red River, near Clarksville, always keeping a sharp lookout for 
choice tracts of land to which, in the future, he might lay claim. 
Because of a false impression as to the provisions of the pre- 
emption law under which he was laboring, he supposed that by 
clearing a few acres and building a cabin on each section of 640 
acres an individual would thus be able to possess himself of as 
much land as he might desire. In pursuance of this idea he 



selected for himself four fine tracts in Sumner County. Three 
of these were in the region around Castalian Springs, and the 
fourth was near Gallatin, it being the same as that subsequently 
owned by General Miller. 

spencer's tree 

In 1781 the State of North Carolina, to which the territory 
embracing Middle Tennessee at that time belonged, defined by 
enactment its pre-emption law, which allowed only one section to 
each head of a family^ or single man who had reached the age of 
twenty-one. Spencer was thereby forced to make a choice of 
the four tracts previously staked off, and he accordingly selected 


the one near Gallatin. This splendid body of land has ever since 
been known as "Spencer's Choice." It bounds the corporate 
limits of the town on the south, and comprises the land now occu- 
pied by the heirs of the late Capt. J. B. Howison, together with 
the farm just south of it, the latter the property of Mrs. John H. 
Oldham, and a part of the farm owned by Mr. R. P. Hite. 

The description of this tract, when granted to Spencer, called 
for natural boundaries which were supposed to embrace a sec- 
tion, but when an actual survey w^as made many years later it 
was found to contain about eight hundred acres. The records on 
file in the Register's office of Sumner County show that on August 
17, 1793, Thomas Spencer conveyed to Stephen Cantrell two hun- 
dred acres of the above tract, the consideration being ''two hun- 
dred hard dollars." The remainder of the tract was inherited 
by William Spencer, brother of Thomas Spencer, at the latter's 

Spencer was a man of great physical strength, a giant in his 
day, well proportioned, broad shouldered, huge in body and limb, 
and weighing nearly four hundred pounds. His traditional feats 
of strength were numerous. On one occasion, shortly after the 
beginning of the settlement at Nashville, he was hunting with a 
fellow sportsman on Duck River in what is now Humphries 
County. As evening came on they sought a secluded spot where 
they might build a fire, cook a deer they had killed, and camp for 
the night. While they were preparing the meal a skulking party 
of Indians espied them, and creeping up to within range of the 
camp fired at them, killing Spencer's companion. Spencer, w^ho 
was unharmed, gathered up the dead body and gun of his fellow 
hunter and with the -added weight of his own arms and ammuni- 
tion dashed into the thick cane and was soon beyond the reach of 
danger. The Indians, seeing his great strength and activity, and 
knowing that he had with him two loaded guns, followed at a 
respectful distance. He succeeded in carrying off and burying 



the remains of his comrade, after which he returned in safety to 
French Lick. 

That veteran pioneer of Sumner County, John Carr, who has 
written so entertainingly of the early period of our history, says 
that on one occasion he rode through a parcel of ground which 


Spencer had cleared. There were five or six acres in the field, 
around which was a rail fence. The timhers used therein, each 
of which was equal in size to ten or fifteen rails, Spencer had 
cut from the clearing and carried on his shoulder to where the 
fence was being built. 


Another instance of his strength is related. He was sick and 
lying on a blanket by a fire near where two of the settlers were 
building a cabin. For a long time he watched them both strug- 
gle under the weight of a log trying in vain to put the end of 
it in place. Finally he arose from his blanket, walked to the 
cabin, took hold of the log and brushing the men aside threw 
it into position with apparent ease. Spencer had a large foot, 
huge even in proportion to his immense body. During his first 
winter at Bledsoe's Lick, Timothy DeMonbreun, as previously 
related, was conducting a trading station near Nashville, and had 
associated with him a party of hunters from Indiana and Illinois. 
One morning just at daybreak Spencer, who was himself a 
mighty hunter, and who happened to be in that neighborhood^ 
chased a herd of buffalo close by the door of a hut in which one 
of these Frenchmen was sleeping. It had been raining and the 
ground was very soft. The sleeping hunter, aroused by the noise 
of the chase, came out and seeing Spencer's footprint in the mud 
near the door, became frightened, swam the Cumberland River, 
and ran north through the wilderness until he reached the French 
settlement at Vincennes. There he related his experience and 
declared he would never return to a country that was inhabited by 
such giants. 

Spencer was of a quiet and peaceable disposition, and being 
possessed of a good face and gentlemanly manners was held in 
high esteem by all the settlers. Like Daniel Boone and others in 
kind who blazed the way of civilization on its westward march, he 
loved the solitude of the forest and often in times of greatest 
danger would for weeks hunt through the woods alone, and seem- 
ingly without fear. In this way he supplied food to the settlers 
in times of great need. He was never married, and after the 
settlements began to be established in Sumner and Davidson Coun- 
ties, he had no abode of his own. When not away on an expedi- 


tion it was his custom to spend the night at any station most liable 
to be attacked by the Indians. In the fall of 1793 Spencer re- 
turned to Virginia for the purpose of winding up an estate and 
receiving therefrom a legacy which was his due. Returning with 
a party on horseback by way of Knoxville, they had reached an 
elevation which, because of this event has since been called Spen- 
cer's Hill, near the headwaters of Caney Fork River. True to 
his custom Spencer was riding alone some distance in advance of 
his party, when at a gap near the top of the hill he was fired upon 
and instantly killed by a band of Indians who were lying in wait. 
Thus ended a career than which in all the annals of early his- 
tory there is no more shining example of undaunted courage and 
heroic self-sacrifice. His horse, which was a splendid animal, 
took fright from the fall of his master, and dashing through the 
line of howling savages which had surrounded him, fled back to 
the party and thus escaped capture. 

Spencer's early advent into the region of Bledsoe's Lick proved 
to be a connecting link between the roving bands of hunters and 
adventurers who first came hither, and that hardier company 
whose annals we are about to consider, and who through toil 
and bloodshed, with trowel in one hand and sword in the other 
laid broad and deep the foundation of a mighty commonwealth. 



The first permanent settlers came to the French Lick in the 
winter of 1779. Let us now locate the principal Indian tribes 
living east of the Mississippi River at that time. 

As before related the region now included in Middle Tennes- 
see and Kentucky had for ages been held by the Indians as a 


great National Park or Hunting Ground. The reasons for this 
were as follows : It was well watered and, to a greater extent than 
any other portion of North America, abounded in fish and game. 
All of this made it doubly desirable to the savage heart. The 
section thus embraced lay on either side of a dividing line between 
the tribes of the North and those of the South. The former 
were called the Iroquois, and consisted of various clans, principal 
among them being the Mohawks, Senecas, Cayugas, Oneidas, 
Ottawas and Kickapoos. They dwelt in the country now in- 
cluded in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and 

Those of the South who were known collectively as the Mo- 
bilian race, included the Cherokees, Creeks, Seminoles, Choctaws, 
Chickasaws, Chickamaugas and Natchez. These were scattered 
over the States of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and 
Tennessee. For purposes of a common defense, the tribes of 
each of these groups were bound together in a kind of loose Con- 
federacy. Both the Iroquois and the Mobilians had formerly 
laid claim to the region in question, but neither could establish a 
better title than the other. After long and bloody wars over its 
possession, during the course of which many of the smaller tribes 
were completely exterminated, it was tacitly agreed that the land 
should be held in common. We have seen already that the Shaw- 
nees at one time invaded the Cumberland Vallley, but soon came 
to grief. Although at certain seasons they were allowed to re- 
turn and hunt, their rights thereafter were much abridged. 

The Cherokees were the mountaineers of their race and inhab- 
ited East Tennessee and North Georgia. They numbered about 
twelve thousand and were the inveterate foes of the pioneers. 
South of these were the warlike Creeks, twenty thousand strong, 
who lived in Alabama and South Georgia. They, too, were 
enemies of the whites. The Seminoles, originally a part of the 


Creek nation, inhabited the peninsula of Florida. Of these there 
were about five thousand. The Chickasaws occupied West Ten- 
nessee and were only about four thousand in number. They were 
peaceful and brave, and soon became allies of the early settlers, 
to whom they often gave warning- and aid in times of impending 

Mississippi was inhabited by the Choctaws, of whom there 
were about fifteen thousand. They were far to the south, and, 
therefore, played but small part in the numerous wars in the 
western colonies. 

The Natchez, a remnant of an ancient but powerful tribe of 
Sun worshipers, occupied a small reservation on the Mississippi 
River just south of the Tennessee line. The Chickamaugas were 
a band of murderers and horse thieves, composed largely of out- 
laws previously belonging to the surrounding tribes, who were 
now clustered about the base of Lookout Mountain in the re- 
gion near Chattanooga. 

The westward march of civilization across and beyond the 
mountains during the last half of the eighteenth century had 
created a market for the Flunting Ground, and straightway each 
Indian tribe, both North and South, began afresh to assert its 
claims thereto. As later events disclosed, they were willing to 
sell to the whites on the most favorable terms, secretly resolving 
to take the scalps of the latter when they should try to possess 
themselves of their purchase. England was anxious to secure for 
her American subjects such titles from the Indians, little caring 
as to their real value. Her reason was self-evident. Spain 
claimed xMiddle Tennessee and Kentucky by right of the discov- 
eries of Columbus and the more recent expedition of I)e Soto. 
England having secured her title from those whom, for the time 
l)eing, she chose to regard as the real owners, might thus assert 
her priority of right. 


At Fort Stanwix, New York, on November 5, 1768, the chiefs 
and head-men from seventeen tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy 
met Sir WilHam Johnson, agent of the Enghsh government, for 
the purpose of arranging a treaty. This council resulted in a 
sale to England by the Northern Indians of their right, title and 
interest in and to all that region known as the Hunting Ground, 
the boundaries of which were the Ohio River on the north and 
the Tennessee River on the south. The above transaction is 
known in history as the treaty of Fort Stanwix, and constituted 
the first conveyance of the land now included in Middle Tennes- 
see. By its terms as they appear in the original document it was 
a warranty of title "so long as grass grows and water flows," 
The latter is until this day a favorite expression among the In- 
dians when indicating an indefinite lapse of time. 

• Because of this transfer by the Iroquois the southern tribes 
were greatly enraged, but did not at this time take action as a 
whole. Later, however, the Cherokees made a sale of their in- 
terest thereto in a manner as below related. 

In the early colonial period, and even during the infancy of 
the republic, more than one man dreamed of a day when within 
the heart of North America he might found an empire over which 
he should sway the scepter and in which his will should be su- 
preme. Colonel Richard Henderson^ of North Carolina, was one 
of these, though his plan of government was a modification of 
that above outlined. He had selected the Hunting Ground be- 
yond the mountains as the scene of his venture. Henderson was 
a man of ability and enterprise, and entered into his scheme with 
the best of intentions. To his colonists he would grant the right 
to make their own laws, retaining only in his hands the power of 
the governorship. However, a pretext for seizing upon the lands 
above indicated must first be obtained. 

Therefore on March 17, 1775, Henderson, together with sev- 


eral business associates and a number of hunters, among the lat- 
ter being Daniel Boone, met the Cherokees at Sycamore Shoals 
on tlie Watauga River in East Tennessee. This meeting was for 
the purpose of arranging terms of purchase of the Cherokee in- 
terest in the lands above mentioned. Henderson was an able 
lawyer and well knew that any conveyance thus obtained would be 
little more than a quit-claim deed, but such a title would afford 
the desired excuse for entering thereupon. 

At this conference were present about twelve hundred mem- 
bers of the tribe. After several days of consultation the Indians 
proposed a sale of all the lands lying between the Cumberland, 
Ohio and Kentucky Rivers, which tract comprised about seven- 
teen millions of acres. In return for this they agreed to accept 
goods to the value of fifty thousand dollars. Their proposition 
was promptly accepted, and the treaty signed on the part of the 
Cherokees by their chiefs, Oconostota, The Raven, and The Car- 
penter. Oconostota had previously made an eloquent speech in 
opposition to the sale thus made, but had finally accepted as his 
own the will of the majority. As the crowd dispersed the old 
chief took Boone by the hand and said : "Brother, we have sold 
to your people a fine country, but I believe they will have much 
trouble in settling it." In the light of after events these words 
were indeed the language of prophecy. 

This transaction is known in history as the treaty of Sycamore 
Shoals, or Watauga. This tract, which of Middle Tennessee 
included only that part north of the Cumberland River, was called 
by Henderson the Transylvania Purchase, the word Transylvania 
meaning "beyond the mountains." Associating with himself eight 
other persons, Henderson organized the "Transylvania Company" 
for the purpose of carrying out his plans. However, the scheme 
was finally abandoned, as it was clearly in violation of the law of 
the land for a private citizen to purchase land from the Indians, 

4^ Early history of middle Tennessee 

a fact doubtless well known to Henderson. A number of the 
hunting and exploring parties mentioned in previous chapters 
had come to the Cumberland country under the patronage of the 
Transylvania Company. In 1780 the State of X'irginia declared 
void the treaty of Sycamore Shoals. However, in order that a 
feud might be avoided with the large and influential following 
of Henderson the Virginia Legislature granted to him, in com- 
pensation for his trouble and expense, a fine body of land in 
Western Kentucky. This tract, twelve miles square, w^as located 
between Green River and the Ohio in the region surrounding 
Owensboro. At the time of the Transylvania purchase, no 
survey having actually been made^ it was generallv supposed 
that the Cumberland Valley was within the territory belonging 
to Virginia. 

By right of title acquired from the Indians in the. treaties 
al)ove mentioned the early settlers came to inhabit Middle Ten- 



Because of glowing accounts given by the hunters on their 
return from the French Lick country a number of colonists in 
East Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia decided to move 
thither and form a settlement. At a council of those interested, 
held at Watauga, it was decided that a company of men should 
first go over, clear land and raise a crop of corn, that their wives 
and children might have bread awaiting them wdien the removal 
should take place later on. 

For this purpose a party set out from Watauga in the month 
of February, 1779. This band of hardy pioneers consisted of 



James Robertson, George Freeland, William Neely, Edward 
Swanson, James Ilanly, Mark Robertson, Zachariah White, Wil- 
liam Overall, and a negro man whose name is unknown. James 
Robertson, the leader, had carefully selected his men, taking with 
him only suitable volunteers and exi)erienced woodmen, all true 
and tried. After three weeks of hardships on their journey over 
the mountains and through the wilderness they reached the 
French Lick. A few days later they were joined by a small 


company from the region of New River, \^irginia. These were 
led by Kasper Mansker, with whom Robertson had doubtless 
been in correspondence before leaving Watauga. A body of 
land near the Sulphur Spring and now within the corporate 
limits of Nashville was selected as the site of the cornfield. This 
both parties united in clearing, planting and cultivating during 
the spring and summer which followed. Around it they built 


a rude fence for its protection against the wild animals that came 
daily to drink at the spring. 

When at length the crop was laid by, Swanson, White and 
Overall were left to keep the buffalo out of the corn while the 
rest of the party returned to the settlement for their families. 
James Robertson, however, did not go with the latter, but made 
the journey homeward by way of Kaskaskia, Illinois. This pil- 
grimage was for the purpose of having an interview with General 
George Rogers Clark, a distinguished citizen and soldier of Vir- 
ginia, and pioneer in the settlement of Kentucky. The latter had 
founded the city of Louisville at the Falls of the Ohio in 1778, 
and was now quartered near Kaskaskia at the French fort he 
had recently captured. 

As previously related, the boundary line between North Car- 
olina and Virginia, to which the territory included in Tennessee 
and Kentucky at this time respectively belonged, had not yet been 
fixed. Robertson believed that the country around French Lick 
was within the limits of Virginia. He also doubted the legality 
of the title thereto of Henderson's Transylvania Company under 
whose patronage he and his fellow settlers had come. He had 
heard that General Clark, as the agent of Virginia, had for sale 
along the Cumberland certain land claims, called ''cabin rights," 
which could be bought for a small sum. By the purchase of 
these he might insure himself and his fellow immigrants against 
future annoyance. 

Just what information Robertson received during his visit 
is unknown to history. It is believed, however, that General 
Clark gave him assurance that French Lick was safely within 
the boundary of North Carolina, and that he would therefore 
need no favors from Virginia. At least that was the impression 
that soon thereafter prevailed among the colonists. Before leav- 
ing Kaskaskia, Robertson bought a drove of live stock, consisting 


of horses, mules and ponies. Finding some men who were going 
to East Tennessee, he offered them passage on the backs of his 
animals. The proposition was readily accepted, and soon this 
caravan was on its way to Watauga, the route being to Harrods- 
burg, Ky., and thence through Cumberland Gap. On reaching 
home Robertson found everything in readiness for an early re- 
moval to the new settlement. 

By the middle of October a company of about 380 immigrants, 
gathered from all the settlements between Knoxville and New 
River, were ready to begin the journey. 

It was arranged that they should go in two parties. The first 
of these, led by James Robertson, and consisting of a majority 
of the men, should travel overland, and by an early arrival have 
everything in readiness for the coming of the second party. The 
latter, composed largely of the families of the first party, and 
commanded by Colonel John Donelson and Capt. John Blackmore, 
were to proceed by boats down the Tennessee River to the Ohio 
and thence up the Cumberland to French Lick. 

It was agreed that after the arrival of the land party at the 
new settlement some of their number should go down to the 
upper end of Muscle Shoals on the Tennessee River in North 
Alabama. There they would either await the coming of the 
voyagers under Donelson and Blackmore, or leave certain signs 
indicating whether or not it was considered safe for the river 
party to quit the boats and go from thence across the country 
to the French Lick. If this could be done, it would shorten the 
journey and also avoid the danger of running the shoals. 

Colonel John Donelson, who is mentioned in connection with 
the above, was born in the year 1718, and was a native of Pittsyl- 
vania County, Virginia. He was by profession a surveyor, which 
vocation in that day was a mark of the highest educational at- 
tainment. From the same section of Virginia originally came 


the Robertsons, the Bledsoes, the Cartwrights and Hendersons, 
all of whom were untiring in their efforts to extend the limits 
of civilization across the western mountains. We shall learn 
much more of Colonel Donelson in subsequent chapters. 



James Robertson, the leader of the expedition about to be 
described, and who from henceforth will play an important part 
in the Cumberland settlement, is called l)y some historians the 
''Father of Tennessee." With equal propriety he may be called 
the "Father of Middle Tennessee." He was born in Brunswick 
County, Virginia, June 28, 1742, and while yet a youth removed 
with his parents to Orange County (now Wake County), North 
Carohna. In 1768 he married Miss Charlotte Reeves, of that 
State. Having heard and answered the alluring call of the West 
he journeyed in the spring of 1770 from North Carolina to the 
Holston River in East Tennessee. There he lent his aid to the 
Shelbys, Seviers and others in founding Watauga, the first col- 
ony west of the mountains. For nine 3'ears previous to his 
coming to the Cumberland he had heroically braved the dangers 
of the wilderness and suffered innumerable privations because o^ 
the ravages of hostile Indians, being exposed to the cruelties of 
these savage foes. 

Of him Judge John Haywood, his contemporary and intimate 
friend, has said : "Like almost all those in America who have 
attained distinction Robertson could boast of neither noble lineage 
nor splendid ancestry. But he had what was far more valuable, 
a sound mind, a healthy body^ a robust frame, an intrepid soul 
and an emulous desire for honest fame." 


In personal appearance Robertson was tall, of fair complexion, 
light blue eyes, and dark hair. Though quiet and retiring in 
manner, he was by nature a leader of men and master of affairs. 
That pioneer Frenchman, Timothy DeMonbreun, once said of 
Robertson : ''He always know savoir faire, vat to do and he do 

During the thirty-five years succeeding the foundation of the 
Cumberland settlement he was a representative of the Federal 
Government in the negotiation of every treaty made with the 
Indians of the South. The latter held him in great veneration, 
always explaining this esteem by saying that "he has winning 
ways and makes no fuss." In dealings with the savages Robert- 
son was unquestionably the greatest diplomat the world has ever 

But let us return to the immigrants. Late in October, 1779, 
the overland party, about two hundred strong, left Watauga. The 
route chosen was a difficult one, leading as it did, by way of 
southern Kentucky. Passing along the well-beaten trace through 
the mountains at Cumberland Gap they traveled what was then 
known as the Kentucky Trace to Whitley's Station on Dick's 
River, thence to Carpenter's Station on Green River, and thence 
to Robertson's Fork on the north side of Green River. From 
there they journeyed down the river to Pittman's Station, descend- 
ing the stream to Little Barren, which was crossed at Elk Lick. 
From thence they passed over to Big Barren and then up Drake's 
Creek to a noted 1)ituminous spring, thence to a location in 
Simpson County called Maple Swamp. From the latter place 
they crossed into Robertson County, Tennessee, and traveled 
along Red River to Cross Plains, going south by way of Good- 
lettsville, and passing over Cumberland River at the bluff where 
Nashville now stands. This, the end of their journey, was 
reached the latter part of December, probably on Christmas Day. 


1779, and quite two months after their departure from Watauga. 
The weather during the months of November and December had 
been extremely severe, a large part of the journey having been 
made through snow. The party had suffered much from cold. 
This season has ever since been known throughout the Eastern 
States as the "hard winter." However, Robertson and all his fol- 
lowers arrived in safety, having traveled about five hundred miles. 
No deaths had occurred and they had been free from attacks by 
the Indians. 

Cumberland River was frozen solid from bank to bank, and 
the entire party crossed over on the ice. When they were in 
mid stream the ice began to break with a cracking sound that 
might have been heard for many miles, and all the company were 
badly frightened lest they should be plunged into the river. It 
only settled a little, however, and finally landed them safe on the 
other side. 

Soon after leaving Watauga, Robertson and his companions 
had been overtaken by a party from New River under the leader- 
ship of John Rains. The latter had with them both horses and 
cattle, and were bound for Harrod's Station, which was located 
at the present site of Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky. 
Robertson prevailed on them to change their plan and accom- 
pany him to French Lick. Rains had formerly visited both loca- 
tions, and in discussing the matter with Robertson declared that 
he felt like a man who wished to get married and knew two beau- 
tiful women either of whom He could have, and both of whom 
he wanted. 

During the same winter Kasper Mansker, Daniel Frazier, 
Amos Eaton and a number of other immigrants followed the 
route pursued by the first company, and after suffering great 
privations reached the Cumberland country about the first of 
January. Near the same time there arrived from South Carolina 


a party consisting of John and Alex Buchanan, Daniel and Samp- 
son Williams, John and James Mulherrin, Thomas Thompson 
and others whose names are now unknown, all of whom had 
come to cast their fortunes with the new colony. Many ties of 
kinship were afterwards disclosed as existent between various 
members of these several companies, and it is more than likely 
that this seeming coincidental movement westward by those from 
widely separated localities was brought about by a previous nat- 
ural correspondence resulting from such relations. 

There were a few women and children with the Rains and 
Mansker parties, but none with those led by Robertson and 

Seeing no signs or Indians on their arrival, and having been 
unmolested on their journey thither, the settlers were inclined 
to scatter over the country, locating on any body of land they 
might fancy within a radius of twenty or twenty-five miles of 
French Lick. Robertson, however, believed there was trouble 
ahead, and therefore advised the building of a stockade into 
which all should come for j^rotection at night. By many this 
advice went unheeded, and as a result they soon came to grief. 

It was agreed, however, that the stockade at the Bluff should 
be headquarters for the colony. This fort, which was called the 
Bluff Station, was located at the foot of Church Street, in what 
Is now the city of Nashville, and near a bold spring, the water of 
which at that time flowed out of the bank and down a precipice 
into the river. This spring was filled and lost sight of while the 
city was in progress of building, but was again uncovered a few 
years ago by workmen who were excavating for the foundation 
of a new structure in that vicinity. This fort was to be a place 
of general council, the seat of government, and together with the 
small village which sprang up immediately around it was offi- 
cially called Nashborough in honor of General Francis Nash, a 


former Governor of North Carolina, and Brigadier-General in the 
Revolutionary Army. He was mortally wounded and died at 
Germantown, October 4, 1777. 

The main building in the Bluff fort, which was at first occu- 
pied by Robertson and two or three companions was a log struct- 
ure two stories high, with port holes around the walls both above 
and below. These were for rifles in case of attack. On top was 
a lookout station from which sentinels might discover the ap- 
proach and movements of the enemy. Other cabins were built 
round about, the whole being inclosed by a circlet of cedar pickets 
driven firmly into the ground. The upper ends of these pickets 
were sharpened to a point, making it practically impossible to 
scale the rude wall thus formed. There was but one entrance 
to this enclosure ; a gate, which by means of a heavy log chain 
was securely fastened at night. 

From the lookout on this fort the settlers might have a com- 
manding view of the surrounding country. To the west and 
south beyond Broad Street, the scene was much obstructed by 
a forest of cedars under which was a thick growth of bushes. 
On the uplands and slopes around and beyond this was an abun- 
dance of timber of all varieties, and of gigantic size. The bot- 
tom lands along the river and to the east and north were covered 
by a thick growth of cane from ten to twenty feet in height, 
presenting a picture quite in contrast to that which might be 
viewed to-day from a similar elevation. 




Within a few weeks after the completion of the Bluff Fort a 
number of other and smaller stations had been planted in the 


surrounding country. The first of these was that of John Rains, 
who went out to what is now Waverly Place, and selecting a 
site near a spring built a cabin for himself and family, and also 
constructed pens of brush and rails for the twenty-one cows and 
seventeen horses brought by him from New River. Rains is 
thus entitled to credit for having first introduced these annnals 
into Middle Tennessee. 

George, Jacob and James Freeland and others of the party 
selected a site in McGavock's addition to Nashville, and there 
beside a large spring which sent forth a lasting stream of water, 
built a fort which is known to history as Freeland's Station. This 
was connected with the Bluff Fort by a few buffalo paths running 
through the thick canebrake which at that time covered the Sul- 
phur Spring bottom. Eaton's Station was located on the east 
side of the river, a mile and a half down the same from the 
Bluff. It was built by Amos Eaton, Isaac Lindsey, Louis Crane, 
Hayden Wells, Frederick Stump, Sr., Isaac Roundsever, William 
Loggins and a man named Winters. This station was composed 
of a number of cabins built around a circle with a stockade from 
one to another. There were portholes through both the stockade 
and the outer walls of the cabins for purposes of defense. 

Kasper Mansker, as previously noted, was by no means a 
stranger to the Cumberland country. Now taking with him Wil- 
liam Neely, James Franklin^ Daniel Frazier and others, he jour- 
neyed twelve miles north of the Bluff to the region of the twin 
licks he had discovered while hunting eight years before. Here 
on the west side of Mansker's Creek, and three or four hundred 
yards from what was later known as Walton's camp ground, 
they built a fort which was called Mansker's Station. It 
was located near Goodlettsville on the farm now owned by the 
heirs of Peyton Roscoe. In the spring of 1783 this fort was 
moved to a site a mile above this location on the east side of 



the creek. Mansker was of German descent, and in conversation 
with the settlers spoke broken EngHsh. Though without col- 
legiate education he was a man of fine intelligence and superior 1 
judgment, a great woodsman, a splendid marksman, a mighty 
hunter and a brave soldier. No man among the early pioneers 
understood better than did he the art of Indian warfare, and on 


this account he was able to render excellent service in routing 
the savages from the Cumberland Valley. In the early days he 
was the proud possessor of a flintlock rifle which he called "Nan- 
cy," after the manner of the old hunters who were given to the 
habit of denominating each his favorite weapon by some feminine 


nickname. In his latter years the younger generation often lis- 
tened with eager attention while he related his exploits and con- 
flicts with the Indians. Soon after the founding of his station 
Mansker was made a colonel in the frontier militia. He engaged 
actively iu nearly all of the bloody wars which followed, and 
though far advanced in years was present at the taking of the 
Indian village Nickajack, a campaign to be described later on. 
His wife, like himself, was of foreign birth, and lived to an ad- 
vanced age. To them no children were born. Both, true to the 
instincts of their nationality, were thrifty, and in their old age 
owned and occupied a fine farm near the site of the second fort. 
Here they died some years after the cessation of Indian hostilities. 
Their rmains are buried in the family cemetery on the old home- 
stead, now owned by Mrs. Hattie Utley. 

During the spring of 1780 Isaac Bledsoe built a fort in Sumner 
County at the lick he had previously discovered. The time of the 
location of this fort is positively determined by the fact that 
Bledsoe's Station is mentioned in the compact of government 
which was formulated at Nashborough on May i, 1780. The 
site of this fort is near Castalian Springs and on land now owned 
by Henry Belote. In the walls of a barn belonging to the latter 
are some of the old logs used in the construction of the station 

Another of the immigrants by the name of Asher, taking with 
him a party of companions from the Bluff, went twenty-eight 
miles northeast into Sumner County and built a fort two and a 
half miles southeast of Gallatin on the buffalo path leading from 
Mansker's Lick to Bledsoe's. This was called Asher's Station, 
and was located on what is now known as the Arch Overton 
farm near the dirt road leading from Gallatin to Cairo. .Some 
time during the month of January or February, another party 
consisting of Thomas Killgore, Moses and Ambrose Mauldon, 



Samuel Mason, Josiah Hankins and others went up into the Red jl 
River country and estabHshed Killgore's Station in Robertson 
County near Cross Plains. Fort Union was also built by Robt. 
Hays at a point five or six miles up the river from the bluff and 
on the site of the more modern Haysborough. 

The settlers at the Bluff and surrounding stations lived dur- 


ing the first winter and spring chiefly on wild game, which was 
of sufficient quantity but very poor in quality. Large numbers of 
the deer and other animals of like nature were found to have 
died of hunger by reason of the heavy snows and long and intense 
cold. All food was of the plainest and most simple of prepara- 
tion. The only obtainable substitute for butter and lard was 


bear's oil, of which, however, the hunters became very fond. The 
small crop of corn raised in the Sulphur Spring bottom the sum- 
mer before furnished them a limited supply of bread. 

In the latter part of January some of the men in pursuit of 
game through the woods were surprised to find traces of a party 
of Indians. These they were able to identify by the moccasin 
prints and also because the toes of the tracks turned inward, a 
characteristic of the savage foot. Following on apace the hunt- 
ers found them encamped on a branch of Mill Creek in Davidson 
County, a few miles south of the Bluff. The stream mentioned 
has since been called Indian Creek because of this incident. The 
whites returned at once to the Bluff, and a delegation was sent 
down from the settlement to seek an interview, and discover if 
possible whether the intruders were only friendly visitors or on 
mischief bent. The whites had no interpreter, but after ''heap 
much talk/' combined with a variety of sign making it was found 
that they were of the Delaware tribe. Probably ignorant of the 
advent of the settlers they had journeyed hundreds of miles from 
their home in New Jersey for a quiet hunt in the reservation. 
Having been already for some time in the Caney Fork country, 
which at that time abounded in game, they remained only a few 
days near the settlement, after which they quietly took their leave 
going south into Alabama. This was the first Indian fright ex- 
perienced by the settlers. Many others followed, some of which 
proved more serious in consequences. 

Soon after the erection of the stations James Robertson, who, 
with such marked success, had led the largest of the four bands 
through the wilderness, was chosen colonel of the local militia. 
This office was conferred by unanimous vote, and for the time 
being bestowed the highest authority in matters pertaining to t^e 
government and defense of the settlements. Though several 
months had now elapsed since the beginning of the journey from 


Watauga, no tidings had yet been received from the river party, 
and a feeling of uneasiness as to their safety began to pervade the 
colony. Let us return to the scene of their embarkment and 
follow them through the events of their voyage. 




Because of delays incident to such occasions, the fleets under 
Colonel Donelson and Captain Blackmore did not sail for nearly 
two months after the departure of the land farce. Finally, how- 
ever, the voyage was begun by each about the same time; Donel- 
son's party from Fort Patrick Henry, five or six miles above the 
north fork of Holston River, and that commanded by Blackmore, 
from Blackmore's Fort on Clinch River. Of the adventures of 
the latter we know but little until after they were united with 
Donelson's fleet at the mouth of Clinch River some time there- 

Colonel Donelson was aboard the "Adventure," the largest boat 
in the flotilla, and for this he kept a journal in which was re- 
corded all the principal events of the journey from the time of 
sailing until it reached the French Lick four months later. For- 
tunately this document has been preserved^ and is now m the 
archives of the Tennessee Historical Society at Nashville. It is 
styled a ''Journal of a Voyage intended by God's permission in 
the good boat Adventure from Fort Patrick Henry on Holston 
River to the French Salt Springs on Cumberland River, kept by 
John Donelson." From this journal we gain the- information 
that the first mentioned wing of the fleet took its departure from 
Fort Patrick Henry on December 22d. At that time, as we have 


already seen, the land party was within a few days of its desti- 
nation. From there the Adventure and its companion boats fell 
down the river to Reedy Creek^ where they were stopped by 
low water and excessive cold. Here they remained for some 
time, finally reaching the month of Cloud's Creek on Sunday 
evening, February 20, 1780. They passed the mouth of French 
Broad River on Thursday morning, March 2. About noon that 
day one of the boats which was conveying Hugh Henry and fam- 
ily ran on the point of William's Island two miles above Knox- 
ville, and by force of the current sank. The freight therein 
was much damaged, and lives of passengers greatly endangered. 
Colonel Donelson ordered the whole fleet tied up while the men 
of the party assisted in bailing the sunken boat and replacing her 

The same afternoon Ruben Harrison, one of the party, went 
hunting in the woods along the shore and did not return. Dur- 
ing the afternoon and night many guns were fired to warn him. 
Early next morning a small four-pound cannon, the property of 
Robert Cartwright, and which was mounted on the Adventure, 
was also fired, the voyagers hoping thereby to attract the atten- 
tion of the lost man. Numerous parties were sent out to scour 
the woods, but all to no avail. On Saturday morning, March 4th, 
after leaving the young man's father and the occupants of a few 
boats to continue the search, the main body moved off down 
stream. About ten o'clock that day young Harrison was found 
and taken aboard from the shore some miles below, to which 
place he had wandered the day before. The party camped that 
night on the vSouth bank of the river in Loudon County, near 
the present beautiful and picturesque site of Lenoir City. 

Sunday morning, March 5th, the fleet was under way before 
sunrise, and at noon passed the mouth of Clinch River in Roane 
County, where Kingston now stands. Three hours later they 


overtook the boats under command of Captain Blackmore, the 
whole party camping again that night on the shore. 

Donelson's Journal does not record the number of boats in this 
fleet, but James Cartwright, for many years a citizen of Gallatin, 
and whose father, Robert Cartwright, was with Donelson on the 
Adventure, related that when the boats from the Holston united 
with those from the Clinch they were about forty in number. 
These consisted of scows, canoes and pirogues, the latter being 
a kind of rude craft hollowed out from the trunks of trees. 
Nearly all the boats had tvv^o or more families aboard. In the 
combined party there were a hundred and thirty women and 
children, and about fifty men. 

The cargo consisted of the household goods and personal 
effects of those aboard and of, those who had gone with Robert- 
son by land. The Adventure carried the largest number of pas- 
sengers. Among them were the wife and five children of James 
Robertson, Robert Cartwright and family, and Colonel Donelson's 
family, including his daughter^ Rachael, who afterwards became 
the wife of General Andrew Jackson. The names of other per- 
sons who came with this fleet are as follows : John Donelson, Jr., 
son of Colonel Donelson, Benjamin Porter, Hugh Rogan, James 
McCain, Isaac Neely, John Cotton, Jonathan Jennings, William 
Crutchfield, John Boyd, Isaac Renfroe, John and Solomon Tur- 
pin. Francis Armstrong, John Montgomery, Isaac Lanier, Dan- 
iel Dunham, John Cockrill, John Caffrey, Thomas Hutchins, Ben- 
jamin Belew, John Gibson, Hugh and Thomas Henry, Frank 
Haney, Russell Gower, Daniel Chambers, David Gwinn, M. 
Roundsever, and Messrs. Maxwell, Stuart, Payne and Johns, 
also Mrs. Mary Purnell and Mrs. Mary Henry, and their respect- 
ive families. 

The flotilla now proceeded in a body. During Wednesday, 
March 8, they came to the first inhabited Indian town on the 



Tennessee River near Chattanooga. Its inhabitants were of the 
treacherous Chickamauga tribes, who, on sighting the boats, 
came flocking to the river and insisted that the voyagers should 
come ashore. They gave signs of friendship^ calhng the whites 
brothers and addressing them in other famihar terms, insomuch 
that John Donelson, Jr., and John Caffrey took a canoe and 
rowed toward them, the fleet having anchored on the opposite 
shore. When Donelson and Caffrey were about mid-stream they 
were met by Archie Coody, a half-breed, and several other In- 
dians who warned them to return to the fleet. They did so, 
followed by Coody and his companions. The latter seemed 
friendly, and Colonel Donelson distributed among them presents, 
with which they were much pleased. 

Looking across toward the village just at this time they saw 
a large party of Indians armed and painted in red and black, 
embarking in canoes on the other side. Coody at once made 
signs to his companions ordering them to quit the fleet, which 
order they readily obeyed, while he remained with the whites 
and urged them to move off at once. The boats were scarcely 
under way again when they discovered the village Indians, still 
armed and bedecked in war-paint, coming down the river, seem- 
ingly to intercept them. However, the whites were not over- 
taken. Coody rowed along in his canoe with the fleet for some 
time, but finally assuring Colonel Donelson that he had passed all 
the Chickamauga towns and was, therefore, free from danger, 
turned about and rowed back toward the first village. 

The whites had not proceeded far, however, before they came 
in sight of another mud-cabin town situated likewise on the south 
side of the river, and nearly opposite a small island. Here the 
savages again invited them to come ashore, calling them brothers 
as on the previous occasion. However, the settlers were too wise 
to be led into such a trap, and headed their boats for the opposite 


channel around the island. Seeing this, the Indians called to 
them through one of their number who could speak English, tell- 
ing them that the channel chosen was unsafe, and that their 
side of the river was much better for such passage. 

Captain Blackmore's boat ran too near the northern shore, 
and was fired upon by a band of Indians who lay concealed near 
the bank. Young Mr. Payne, who was aboard the craft, was 
killed as a result of such an unexpected volley. 

There was with the flotilla a boat carrying twenty-eight pas- 
sengers, among whom an epidemic of smallpox had broken out. 
To guard against a spread of this disease to other members of the 
fleet agreement had been made that it should keep well to the 
rear, its owner, Mr. Stuart, being notified each night by the 
sound of a hunting horn when those ahead went into camp. 
Therefore, this unfortunate party was far behind while the events 
above mentioned were taking place. When they came down 
opposite the towns the Indians were on the shore in large num- 
bers and seeing them thus cut ofif from the rest of the fleet 
swarmed out in canoes and with cold-blooded, murderous intent 
killed and captured the entire crew. Cries of the latter were dis- 
tinctly heard by those in the boats ahead, but they were unable 
to stem the swift current and thus return to aid their perLshing 

But the Indians sufifered a swift and righteous retribution for 
this wanton act of cruelty. They became infected with the dis- 
ease of their victims, and for many months thereafter smallpox 
raged, not only among the Chickamaugas, but in the tribes of 
their neighbors, the Creeks and Cherokees. When stricken with 
the malady and while the fever was yet upon them, the savages 
would take a heavy sweat in their huts. When driven to madness 
by the fever and heat, they would rush out and leap into the 
river, from the eflfects of which folly they died by scores. Old 


persons of to-day well remember the traditional accounts of a 
great and terrible mortality which prevailed among- the savages 
after the capture of Stuart's boat. 



News of the fleet's approach seems to have preceded it down 
the river, and now at every turn the unhappy voyagers were 
greeted with signs of hostility. They had by this time reached 
the Whirl or Suck, ten miles dow^n from Chattanooga, where the 
river is compressed into less than half its usual channel by the 
jutting walls of the Cumberland Mountains. While passing 
through the "boiling pot" near the upper end of these narrows 
an accident occurred which almost cost the immigrants their lives. 
John Cotton had attached a large canoe in which he was travel- 
ing, to Robert Cartwright's flatboat on which his household goods 
were stored, and into the latter Cotton and his family had gone 
for greater safety. At this point the canoe was overturned and 
its cargo lost. Pitying Cotton's distress those ahead decided to 
call a halt and help recover the property. They landed at a level 
spot on the north bank and were going back to the scene of the 
accident when to their utter surprise the Indians appeared in 
great numbers on the opposite cliffs above and began firing down 
on them. The would-be rescuers beat a hasty retreat to their 
boats and shoving off rowed rapidly down the river. The sav- 
ages lining the bluffs overhead kept up a brisk fire, during which 
four of the immigrants were wounded. In the boat of Russell 
Cower was his daughter^ Nancy Cower. When the crew was 
thrown into disorder by the attack, Nancy took the helm and 
steered through the narrows though exposed to all the fire of 


the enemy. A bullet from an Indian's rifle passed entirely 
through her body, but she made no outcry, standing bravely at 
her post. No one knew she was wounded until her mother dis- 
covered the blood-stains on her garments. She survived the 
wound and afterwards became the wife of Anderson Lucas, one 
of the first settlers at Nashville. 

It would seem that the events above recorded were enough 
for one day, but the end was not yet. A boat belonging to Jona- 
than Jennings ran on a large rock jutting out into the water at 
the lower end of the whirl. The enemy soon discovered Jen- 
nings' plight, and turning their whole attention to him, kept up 
a most galling fire on his boat and its occupants. He immediately 
ordered his wife, a son nearly grown, a young man who was a 
passenger, and two negro servants, a man and a woman, to 
throw all the goods into the river that they might thus lighten 
the craft and get it afloat. Jennings himself, being a good sol- 
dier and a fine marksman, took up his rifle and returned the fire 
of the Indians with great effect. Before the boat was unloaded, 
his son, the young man who was a passenger, and the negro 
man jumped overboard and started to swim ashore. The negro 
man was drowned, but the two young men reached the bank 
where they secured a canoe and started down the river. Mrs. 
Jennings and the negro woman continued their work of unload- 
ing the boat, assisted by Mrs. Peyton, a daughter of Mrs. Jen- 
nings and the wife of Ephraim Peyton, who had gone overland 
with Robertson. An infant, to which Mrs. Peyton had given 
birth only the day before this disaster, was accidentally killed 
in the confusion and excitement incident to unloading the boat. 
When the goods were all thrown overboard Mrs. Jennings got 
out and shoved the boat off the rocks. In so doing she nearly 
lost her life because of its sudden lurch into the water. History 
has seldom recorded deeds of greater heroism than those accred- 


ited to the brave women who were among the immigrants on this 
most memorable voyage to a new and unknown land. 

The two young men who deserted the boat were met on their 
way down the river by five canoes full of Indians. By the latter 
they were taken prisoners and carried back to one of the Chicka- 
mauga towns. There young Jennings was knocked down by 
the savages who were about to take his life, when a friendly 
trader by the name of Rogers came up and ransomed him with 
goods and trinkets. He was afterwards restored to his relatives 
at the French Lick settlement. The other captive was killed and 
his body burned. All other boats of the fleet were ahead of that 
of Jennings, and though their occupants feared for its safety, 
they were ignorant of its peril. They had proceeded without inci- 
dent during Wednesday night, and after sailing all day Thursday, 
Marcli 9, considered themselves beyond the reach of danger, and 
camped at dusk on the northern shore. About four o'clock next 
morning they were aroused by a cry of "help !" from the river. 
Upon investigation it was found that the call was from the Jen- 
nings boat, whose occupants were drifting down stream in a 
most wretched condition. They had discovered the whereabouts 
of their fellow-travelers by the light of the camp fires ashore. It 
was little short of miraculous that they should have escaped with- 
out the slightest wound, as their boat and even the clothing they 
wore had been pierced by many bullets. 

The members of this unfortunate family having now been 
distributed among the remaining boats, the voyage was resumed. 
After a day of safe passage the fleet anchored again at night on 
the northern shore. 

On March 12 they came to the upper end of the Muscle 
Shoals near the present site of Tuscumbia, Alabama. Here, we 
remember, it had been agreed that a party from French Lick 
should either meet them or leave a sign which should determine 


theii future course. Doubtless the commanders of this flotilla 
and the company they were leading looked forward with a sense 
of relief to a probable journey from this point overland, by which 
they might escape the further perils of the river. In this, how- 
ever, they were doomed to disappointment, for upon their arrival 
at the head of the Shoals neither the party nor the promised 
sign were in evidence. Colonel Robertson's reason for not ful- 
filling this part of the agreement is unknown. A probable ex- 
planation is that because of the unexpected length of his own 
journey he supposed the river party had already passed the 
Shoals by the time he reached French Lick. 

Nevertheless, the crews of the flotilla, though well aware of 
the dangers confronting them, were determined to continue the 
voyage. The Shoals are described as being at that time dreadful 
to behold. The river was swollen beyond its wont, the swift 
current running out in every direction from piles of driftwood 
which were heaped high upon the points of the islands. This 
deflection of the stream made a terrible roaring, which might be 
heard for many miles. At some places the boats dragged the 
bottom, while at others they were warped and tossed about on the 
waves as though in a rough sea. The passage which was, 
withal, exceedingly dangerous, was made in about three hours, the 
entire fleet coming through into the western channel of the river 
without accident. 



Two days later some of the boats coming too near the shore 
were fired upon by the Indians and five of the crew were wounded 
That night after having gone into camp near the mouth of a 
creek in' Hardin County, Tennessee, the party became alarmed by 


the loud barking of their dogs, and supposing that the eneniy 
was again upon them, ran hastily down to the river, leaving all 
the camp outfit behind. Springing into the boats they drifted in 
the darkness about a mile down stream and camped again on 
the opposite shore. Next morning John Donelson, Jr., and John 
CaiTrey, who seem to have been the scouts of the expedition, 
determined to find out the cause of alarm. Securing a canoe 
they rowed back to the first camp where they found an old negro 
man, a member of the party, sound asleep by the fire. In the 
hurried flight of the night before no one had thought to wake 
him, and he was yet undisturbed by the rays of the morning 
sun. The alarm was false, for nothing had been molested. 

The party now returned and gathered up their belongings, 
after which another day's voyage was begun. On Monday night, 
March 20, they arrived at the mouth of the Tennessee River 
and went into camp on the lowland which is now the site of Pa- 
ducah. Though already much worn by hunger and fatigue, the 
supply of provision having run short, they were here confronted 
by new difficulties, the whole making the situation extremely 
disagreeable. Having been constructed to float with the tide 
their boats were unable to ascend the rapid current of the Ohio, 
which was almost out of banks by reason of the heavy spring 
rains. They were also ignorant of the distance yet to be trav- 
eled, and the length of time required to reach their destination. 
Some of the company here decided to abandon the journey to 
French Lick; a part of them floating down the Ohio and Mis- 
sissippi to Natchez, the rest going to points in Illinois. Among 
the latter were John Caffrey and wife, the son-in-law and daugh- 
ter of Colonel Donelson. 

This loss of companionship made a continuation of the voyage 
doubly trying on those who were left behind. However, noth- 
ing daunted, they determined to pursue their course eastward, 


regardless of all the danger. Accordingly they set sail on Tues- 
day, the 2 1st, but were three days in working their way up the 
Ohio from Paducah to the mouth of the Cumberland, a distance 
of fifteen miles. Arriving at the latter place they were undecided 
as to whether the stream they found was really the Cumberland. 
Some declared it could not be the latter, because it was very 
much smaller in volume than they had expected to find. Prob- 
ably their three days of incessant toil against the swift current 
of the Ohio had much to do with this pygmean appearance of 
our own beloved and historic river. However, they had heard 
of no stream flowing into the Ohio between the Tennessee and 
Cumberland, and, therefore, decided to make the ascent. They 
were soon assured by the widening channel that they were correct 
in their conjectures. In order to make progress up stream Colo- 
nel Donelson rigged the Adventure with a small sail made out of 
a sheet. To prevent the ill effects of any sudden gusts of wind 
a man was stationed at each lower corner of this sail with instruc 
tions to loosen it when the breeze became too strong. 

For three days after entering the mouth of the Cumberland 
their journey was without incident. An occasional hunting ex- 
cursion was made through the forest which skirted the shore 
Thus was procured a supply of buffalo meat, which was poor but 
palatable. On the second day out a large swan came floating by 
the Adventure. Colonel Donelson shot it, and describes the 
cooked flesh thereof as having been very delicious. Two days 
later they gathered from a place in the bottoms near the shore 
a quantity of greens which some of the company called Shawnee 
salad. To this day the spot above mentioned is known as "Pat's 
Injun Patch," so named for Colonel Donelson's old negro cook. 
Patsy, who was called "Pat for short.'' 

On Friday, March 31, they had the good fortune to meet 
Colonel Henderson, of the Transylvania Company, who was out 


with a surveying party trying to establish the much disputed 
boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina. This meet- 
ing was very timely, as Colonel Henderson had come over by way 
of French Lick and brought to them good tidings of the arrival 
of Colonel Robertson and his companions from whom they had 
not heard since the latter began their perilous westward march 
over the Kentucky trail five months before. Until late in the 
night they plied him with questions about the new country toward 
which they were journeying. He painted in glowing colors the 
future before them, and by way of relieving anxiety as to present 
needs vouchsafed the information that he had just purchased a 
quantity of corn from the settlements in Kentucky to be shipped 
by boat from Louisville to French Lick for the use of the settlers. 
Doubtless there was then a silver lining to the cloud of uncertainty 
that had long hovered over this hardship-riden band of adven- 

But there were yet three weeks of sailing before them. At 
length they arrived without further accident, at the mouth of 
Red River in Montgomery County, where they bade adieu to 
Isaac Renfroe and several companions, the latter having on a 
previous hunting trip selected a location at that place. The voy- 
age was now near an end, and on April 23, they found them- 
selves alongside of Eaton's Station, a mile and a half below the 
Bluff fort. The following day, Monday, April 24, they joined 
their relatives and friends of the Robertson expedition from 
whom they had parted many weeks before. Colonel Donelson 
records the fact that it was then a great source of satisfaction 
to himself and his associates that they were now able to restore 
to Colonel Robertson and others their families and friends, whom 
sometime since, perhaps, they had despaired of ever meeting 
again. Thirty-three of the party had perished by the way, and 
nine of those who remained were wounded. 


Truly has Gilmore said : ''This voyage hm no parallel in his- 
tory. A thousand miles they had journeyed in 'frail boats upon 
unknown and dangerous rivers. The country through which 
they passed was infested by hostile Indians, and their way had 
been over foaming whirlpools and dangerous shoals where for 
days they had run the gauntlet and been exposed to the fire of 
the whole nation of Chickamaugas, the fiercest Indian tribe on 
this continent." 

In all events it will stand forth to the end of time as one of 
the most remarkable achievements in the early settlement of the 
American continent. 



Soon after his arrival Colonel Donelson, together with his 
son, John Donelson, Jr., Hugh Rogan and others, went ten miles 
up the Cumberland to the mouth of Stones River. There in the 
midst of a fine body of land, since known as the ''Clover Bottom," 
they built a fort, the location of which was about a hundred and 
fifty yards northwest of where the Lebanon turnpike now crosses 
Stories River. This beautiful tract of rich bottom land took 
its name from the thick growth of native white clover which 
covered it at that time. The Turpins and Johns went back down 
the river to Clarksville and there joined Renfroe in establishing 
near the mouth of Red River the station which bore his name. 
The rest of those who had come by water found locations m the 
various forts already erected at the time of their arrival. 

Thus it appears that the entire population of Middle Ten- 
nessee at that time was less than five hundred. These were 
housed in the eight or nine forts of Davidson and Sumner 


Counties. The little colony thus constituted was in the heart 
of a wild and, save their own presence, an uninhabited country 
several hundred miles from any other settlement and much fur- 
ther from the seat of government. North Carolina, the parent 
State, was now engaged in the Revolutionary War, and, therefore, 
could not, or would not, minister to the wants of her colony 
upon the distant frontier, while the latter, by reason of its 
seeming security from the legal processes of the States, was 
fast becoming a rendezvous for murderers, horse thieves, and all 
other fugitives from justice. From time to time also there arose 
between members of the colony matters of legitimate contro- 
versy which must of necessity be settled at law. In consequence 
of the above the leading men of the settlement soon set about 
drafting a form of local self-government. Col. James Robert- 
son and Col. Richard Henderson were leaders in the movement. 
They were not without experience. The former had assisted in 
launching the Watauga compact some years before. The latter 
had been a leading spirit in early governmental affairs both at 
Watauga and at Boonesboro in central Kentucky. By his re- 
cent survev Henderson had established to his own satisfaction 
the fact that the Cumberland settlement was within the bounds of 
the territory belonging to North Carolina. He proposed now to 
claim his right of purchase by the treaty of Sycamore Shoals. 
This he did, and afterwards sold to the emigrants the land on 
which they entered. He took no money from them, however, 
but simply entered into an agreement by the terms of which the 
purchase price, which was small, should be paid when the State 
of North Carolina should declare his title valid. This was never 
done. Instead, North Carolina followed the example of Vir- 
ginia by declaring his title void, and in partial payment therefor 
granted him two hundred thousand acres of fine land in the 
Holston Valley of East Tennessee. Henderson in all things 


dealt justly with the early pioneers, and left among them when 
he died an honored name. 

Robertson and Henderson probably wrote the articles of 
agreement establishing the compact of government which was 
entered into by the settlers on May i, 1780, and which was 
finally ratified on May 13, following. This agreement was 
signed by two hundred and fifty-six of the colonists, only one of 
whom was unable to write his own name. This number repre- 
sented nearly the entire male population. 

It provided that as soon as convenient after its adoption the 
free men of the settlement who were over twenty-one years of 
age should elect or choose from their number twelve suitable 
persons to be called Judges, or Triers. The latter should con- 
stitute a court having jurisdiction over such matters of a civil 
or criminal nature as in the future might arise. These judges 
should serve without salary and were divided among the various 
stations as follows : The Bluff, or Nashborough, three ; Eaton's, 
two; Mansker's, two; Bledsoe's, one; Asher's, one; Freeland's. 
one ; Donelson's, one ; and Fort Union, one. 

Other stations at that time located were not recognized as 
entitled to representation on this court, probably because the 
number inhabiting each was considered too small. We shall see 
that some of the latter were soon thereafter abandoned. By 
the solemnity of an oath these Judges were bound to do equal 
and impartial justice to all parties to the best of their skill and 

It was also provided that as often as the people in general 
became dissatisfied with the acts or decisions of the members of 
this body they might call a new election and elect others in their 
stead. This court, having due regard, of course, for the rules 
and regulations of the government land office, was empowered to 
settle contests arising from entries upon tracts of land, of which 


contests there is always an abundance in every newly settled coun- 
try. Its decisions in such cases were final as to any future claim 
of the party against whom said judgment was rendered. 

It was further provided that until such time as the State of 
North Carolina should extend the jurisdiction of its courts be- 
yond the mountains and thereby relieve the settlement from the 
many evils which had arisen, these Judges, or Triers, should be 
a proper tribunal for the determination of any suit for debt or 
damages. Of course, no jurisdiction or authority could be exer 
cised over those who did not subscribe to the agreement, but 
provision was also wisely made that the latter should neither 
own land thereabouts nor become citizens of the colony. In all 
cases where the debt, demand, or damages did not exceed a hun- 
dred dollars, any three of the judges might sit as a court of 
competent jurisdiction to try the cause, and from their decisions 
in such cases there was no right of appeal. If the amount in- 
volved was greater than one hundred dollars, any three should 
also hear the cause, but from their judgment either party might 
appeal to the entire court consisting of the twelve judges. In 
this event nine of their number should constitute a quorum, 
whose decision should be final, provided as many as seven con- 

A majority of the court was clothed with power to punish 
criminal offenses, even those of a capital nature, provided, how 
ever, that they should not attempt to authorize the infliction of the 
death penalty. In accusations calling for the latter punishment, 
the prisoner should be sent under strong guard to the locality 
where a legal trial for such an offense might be had. 

All young men over the age of sixteen years who were able 
to perform military duty were given the right to enter and ob- 
tain land, each in his own name as though he were of legal age. 

Provision was also made for calling the settlers to military 
service for the safety and defense of the stations. 


As above suggested this improvised government was not de- 
signed to operate in conflict vvith the laws of North CaroHna. In 
fact, the latter was urged to speedily organize the Cumberland 
settlement into a separate county over which it should appoint 
proper officials for the discharge of public duty. It was in- 
tended to last only until such time as the State might extend its 
protection over the new settlement. 

The local government above described was an Absolute De- 
mocracy. We view it now as a foundation stone of a mighty 
republic, the like of which the world has never seen before, and 
under the protecting folds of whose flag the oppressed of all lands 
may find personal and religious freedom. Col. James Robertson 
was selected as one of the three judges from the Bluff. He 
became Chief Justice of the court and also commander-in-chief 
of the military forces of the settlement. 



For fourteen years after the founding of the Cumberland 
settlement the lives of the pioneers were in daily peril. Looking 
back over that eventful period from a distance of more than a 
century we wonder that a single individual escaped such a ter- 
rible onslaught of savage cruelty. In the language of Judge 
Haywood, it was indeed "a period of danger and hazard ; of dar- 
ing adventure and dangerous exposure." When the articles of 
agreement were adopted the settlers began in peace to plant 
their fields and plow their corn. But the Indians deeply resented 
this sudden advent of so large a number of the whites into their 
hunting grounds. By way of adding fuel to the flame, the 
British on the North and the Spaniards on the south were now 


busily, but secretly^ engaged in urging the savages to open hos- 
tilities against the defenseless outposts on the western frontier. 
The latter now by seeming systematic effort began to pick off the 
stragglers from the various stations. 

One morning during the month of May a hunter by the 
name of Keywood came running into the fort at the Bluff and 
reported that John Milliken had been killed on Richland Creek, 
five or six miles away. The two men were journeying toward 
the settlement and had stopped at the creek for a drink. While 
they stooped down they were fired upon by a band of Indians 
hidden on the bank and Milliken fell dead. Keywood had es- 
caped uninjured and made his way alone to the settlement to 
bear the news of the tragic death of his comrade. 

A few days later Joseph Hay was alone down on the Lick 
Branch between the Bluff and Freeland's Station, when a skulk- 
ing party of savages who were hiding in the cane shot and scalped 
him. They then beat a hasty retreat, carrying away with them 
his gun, hunting knife, shot pouch and powder horn. His body 
was buried by the settlers in the open ground on a point of land 
east of Sulphur Spring. 

Soon thereafter a man named Bernard was at work on his 
clearing near what is now Beuna Vista Springs. So busily en- 
gaged was he with his work that he did not hear the stealthy 
footfalls of the approaching savages. Creeping up to within 
easy range the latter shot him dead in his tracks, after which they 
cut off the head of their victim and carried it away in triumph. 

In their retreat they encountered near by three young men ; 
two brothers named Dunham, and the third, a son of John Milli- 
ken^ whose death is mentioned above as having occurred only 
a short time before. The Dunhams escaped to Freeland's Sta- 
tion, but young Milliken was killed and his head likewise cut off 
and carried away by the enemy. In the month of June two set- 


tiers by the names of Goin and Kennedy were clearing land be- 
tween Mansker's and Eaton's Stations. A party of Indians stole 
up behind some brush heaps the men were making and when the 
latter came near they were fired upon and killed. The savages 
then rushed out, tore off the scalps of their victims and escaped 
unharmed into the surrounding forest. During the months fol- 
lowing a number of the settlers were killed within what are now 
the city limits of Nashville. D. Larimer was shot, scalped and 
beheaded near Freeland's Station. Isaac Lefeore met a like 
fate on the west bank of the river near the end of the Louisville 
& Nashville railroad bridge. Soloman Murry, Soloman Phillips, 
and Robert Aspey were fired upon while at work near where the 
Fogg High School building now stands. Murry and Aspey were 
killed, the savages taking away the scalp of the former. Phillips 
was wounded, but escaped to the fort at the Bluff, where he died 
a few days later. Benjamin Renfroe, John Maxwell and John 
Kennedy were fishing on the river bank near the mouth of Sul- 
phur Spring Branch. Indians crept up behind them and made 
an attack. The men fought bravely, but were overpowered and 
made prisoners. Renfroe was tomahawked and scalped, but the 
lives of Kennedy and Maxwell were spared. 

Philip Catron journeyed from Freeland's Station to the Bluff. 
The buffalo path along which he passed ran through a thick clus- 
ter of undergrowth near the present crossing of Cedar and Cherry 
Streets. While in the midst of this thicket he was shot from 
ambush. Holding on to his horse he rode to the station, where 
he received such medical attention as could be given him. Though 
severely wounded he finally recovered. 

John Caffrey and Daniel Williams, two occupants of the Bluff 
fort, went for a row up the river. On returning they had made 
fast their canoe and were coming up the bank near the foot of 
Church Street when the Indians opened fire, wounding them in 


the legs. Hearing the report of the rifles John Raines and 
several companions who were in the fort near by rushed out 
and chased the savages, eight or ten in number, as far as the 
Sulphur Spring. The latter were fleet of foot and made their 
escape. Late in the month of August Jonathan Jennings, whq 
with his family barely escaped death in the voyage over, was 
killed near the river bank at a point opposite Island No. i, above 
Nashville. He was at that time building a cabin on the tract of 
land upon which he had recently made entry. Not content with 
taking his life, the Indians, who were a roving band of Delawares. 
chopped his body into pieces with their tomahawks and scattered 
the fragments over the surrounding ground. 

James Mayfield and a man named Porter were murdered in 
plain view of their comrades over in Edgefield near Eaton's Sta- 
tion. The men in the fort caught up their rifles and gave chase, 
but the enemy made good their escape. 

Col. Richard Henderson's body servant and negro cook, Jim, 
was killed by a party of Indians near Clover Bottom. His mas- 
ter had begun the erection of a camp at that place, a short way 
above that occupied by Colonel Donelson, but at that time was 
away on a visit to forts in Kentucky. Jim and a young white 
man, a chain carrier in Henderson's surveying party, were about 
to begin a journey down the river by canoe from the camp to 
the Bluff. The savages were in hiding in the thick cane on the 
bank and fired upon them with the above result. The white man, 
Jim's companion, made his escape. One of the emigrants, Ned 
Carvin by name, had made an entry on land four miles east of 
Nashville. He built thereon a cabin in which he lived with his 
family. One day while hoeing in his garden beside the house 
he was shot by the Indians from a neighboring thicket and in- 
stantly killed. His wife and two small children escaped by a door 
on the opposite side of the cabin and hid in the cane near by. 


For some unknown reason they were unmolested, and after re- 
maining in hiding all night in the woods made their way in 
safety next morning to Eaton's Station. Here they were kindly 
comforted and provided for by the settlers. 

A few days thereafter John Shockley and Jesse Balestine were 
killed while hunting in the woods not far from Carvin's cabin. 

Jacob and Frederick Stump, two Dutchmen, had selected land 
and built a cabin on White's Creek, three miles north of Eaton's 
Station. Pursuant to custom one of them usually stood on guard 
while the other worked in the clearing, but on a certain occasion 
this precaution was neglected. While both were busily engaged 
some Indians crept up behind a clump of trees at the edge of the 
field and fired at them, killing Jacob. His brother seeing that it 
would be folly to stand his ground started on a run toward Eat- 
on's, the nearest place of refuge, closely pursued by the enemy. 
Up hill and down, over ledges of rock, through cane brakes and 
cedar thickets, the race was one of life and death. After a mile 
or two the pursuing savages got near enough to hurl a tomahawk 
at Stump's head with such force as to land it twenty or thirty 
feet beyond. There the race ended, the supposition being that 
the Indians stopped to search for the lost hatchet. They probably 
thought more of the latter than of the prospect of capturing 
Stump's scalp, especially so in consideration of the rate of speed 
Stump was making just at that particular time. 

This same band of marauders went on up the river to Bled- 
soe's Station and there killed and scalped two persons : William 
Johnson and Daniel Mungle. Then after shooting all the cattle 
they could find about the fort and setting fire to some out houses 
and fencing they pursued their journey up the river toward Flarts- 
ville. On the way they met Thomas Sharp Spencer returning alone 
from a hunting trip and leading two horses ladened with bear meat 
and pelts. The Indians fired at Spencer, slightly wounding him. 


Finding himself badly outnumbered Spencer ''stood not on the 
order of his going" but very promptly dismounted and ''went at 
once," leaving the horses and cargo to the enemy. He ran 
through the woods and escaped into Bledsoe's fort. Tradition 
tells us that when safely inside the station he made but little 
complaint because of his wound, but grieved long and loud 
on account of the loss of the horses and especially the bear meat, 
of which he was exceedingly fond. 

Other hunters had been with Spencer on this expedition, but 
had left him before the Indians were encountered. 

Some of the forts were abandoned before the end of 1780 be- 
cause of their apparent inability to defend themselves against 
attacks of which they were in constant danger. In the latter part 
of May, John Raines had moved his family from his station in 
Waverly Place to the Bluff fort, and thence later into Kentucky. 


EVENTS OF 1780 (continued). MASSACRE AT RENFROe's STA- 


During the month of July Renfroe's Station at the mouth 
of Red River was attacked by a combined force of Choctaws and 
Chickasaws. In this onslaught Nathan Turpin and another man 
whose name is now unknown were slain and scalped. The fort- 
was thereupon abandoned. The Turpin family were relatives 
of the Freeland's, and, therefore, would go to Freeland's Sta- 
tion, while Johns and some of the others would stop on the East 
side of the river at Eaton's. They began their journey at once, 
taking with them only a few necessary articles. The remainder 
of their household goods and personal effects were hidden as 


securely as possible about the deserted fort. After a day of hard 
travel they camped by the roadside about dusk. After they had 
eaten supper some of the party began to express regret at their 
hasty flight and decided to return that night to the fort and bring 
away more of their property. Beginning the return journey 
at once, they reached the deserted fort in the early hours of the 
morning, and by daylight had gathered up all they could carry 
away. They then started the second time toward Eaton's and the 
Bluff. That evening they went into camp in what is now Cheat- 
ham County, two miles north of Sycamore Creek. 

During the night they were surprised by a party of Indians 
who fell upon them with sudden and destructive fire. The set- 
tlers scattered and fled through the darkness in every direction, 
but they were pursued and all save one — a Mrs. Jones — perished 
by the tomahawk in the hands of an unrelenting foe. Men, 
women and children, the latter detected by their crying, were 
hunted down and chopped to death with wanton cruelty. About 
twenty persons were killed in this terrible massacre. Among the 
number were Joseph Renfroe, and Mr. Johns together with his 
entire family, consisting of twelve persons. Mrs. Jones, who 
escaped, was rescued next day and brought in safety to Eaton's 
Station by Henry Ramsey, a brave Indian fighter and worthy 
pioneer. Those of the company who had not turned back but 
had continued their journey, arrived at their destination in safety. 
When news of the above disaster reached Eaton's and the Bluff 
a rescuing party from each went at once to the scene of the 
massacre and there gave aid to the mortally wounded, and buried 
the dead. By the light of the morning they found that the In- 
dians, probably the same band which had made the assault on 
Renfroe's Station, had captured and carried away all the horses 
and much of the plunder. Such of the latter as remained they 
had broken and scattered over the ground. 


At length the Indians directed their attention to Mansker's 
Station and killed Patrick Quigley, John Stuckley, James 
Lumsley and Betsy Kennedy. This station was afterwards 
abandoned for a time as will be later recorded. Late in the sum- 
mer a party of hunters were spending the night in a caljin at 
Asher's Station, in Sumner County. The Indians who by some 
unknown means had learned of their presence, surrounded the 
cabin during the night and at daybreak made an attack by poking 
their guns through the cracks and firing at the sleeping whites. 
They killed a man named Payne and wounded another by the 
name of Phillips. After scalping Payne and capturing all the 
horses about the station they started on toward Bledsoe's, riding 
single file in the bufifalo path which led in that direction. Sud- 
denly they found themselves face to face with a company of 
settlers composed of Alex. Buchanan, William Ellis, James Mani- 
fee, Alex. Thompson and others, who were returning to the 
Blufif from a hunting expedition in Trousdale County. Buchanan, 
who was riding at the head of his party, fired and killed the first 
Indian and wounded the second. Seeing their leader slain, the 
remaining savages sought safety in flight, leaving to the whites 
the captured horses. 

After this the settlers at Asher's became so much alarmed 
that they broke up the station and went to Mansker's. A short 
time thereafer Col. Robertson, Alex. Buchanan, John Brock, Wil- 
liam Mann and fourteen others equally as true and tried, chased 
a band of Indians from Freeland's Station, a distance of forty 
miles, to Gordan's Ferry, on Duck River. Here they came upon 
the savages, killed several of their number and captured a large 
amount of stolen plunder. This was the first military expedi- 
tion conducted by Col. Robertson under the new local government. 

Later in the fall another party of Indians approached the 
Bluff Station in the night, stole a number of horses, loaded them 


with such goods and plunder as they could lay hands on and made 
their escape. The next morning Capt. James Leiper, with a 
company of fifteen, pursued and overtook them on Harpeth 
River. When the savages heard the approach of the whites they 
made every efifort to escape, but their horses^ which were heavily 
loaded with the plunder stolen from the settlement, could make 
but little headway through the entangled undergrowth. At the 
first fire from Leiper's party the Indians fled, leaving the horses 
and plunder to their pursuers. 

The settlers were now in great need of salt for use in season- 
ing the fresh meat upon which they were obliged to depend almost 
solely for food. Their only way of securing this necessity of life 
was by evaporation from the waters of sulphur springs. 

The first attempt at salt-making was at Mansker's Lick. Hav- 
ing failed there, a party consisting of William Neely, his daughter, 
a young lady about sixteen years old, and several men, went from 
that station to Neely's Lick, afterwards known as Neely's Bend, 
up the river from the Bluff. Here they had established a camp 
and were meeting with some success. Neely daily scoured the 
woods for game and thus kept the company supplied with food, 
while the young lady did the cooking. The kilns at which the 
salt was made were located some distance from the camp, and 
the workmen suspecting no danger, went off each day, leaving 
the father and daughter alone about the camp. One evening 
about sunset Neely returned from a successful hunt, bringing 
with him a fine buck which had been killed a few miles away. 
Being much fatigued he lay down by the camp fire to rest while 
his daughter skinned the deer and prepared the venison for sup- 
per, singing as she passed back and forth from the tent to the 
oven, some distance away. Suddenly a rifle barrel gleamed in the 
fading sunlight from behind a neighboring tree and a shot broke 
the stillness of the forest. Neely, raising himself half-way up on 


his elbow, uttered a groan and fell back dead. The savages now 
rushed out from their hiding places, seized the girl^ tied her 
hands behind her and gathering up her father's gun and powder 
horn dragged her away captive, a big Indian holding her on 
either side. Thus they forced her to run between them until 
far into the night, when the party reached a Creek camp many 
miles south of Nashville. Here they rested for awhile, but the 
next morning resumed their flight, going on into the interior 
of the Creek nation. 

Neely's companions returning to camp shortly after dark and 
finding him dead and his daughter missing, hastened to carry the 
sad tidings to the wife and mother at Mansker's, which place 
they reached about daylight. The occupants of the fort at once 
organized a party to pursue the murderers and rescue the girl, 
After following the trail for fifteen or twenty miles, acting on -the 
advice of Kasper Mansker, their leader, they quit the chase lest 
the captors, seeing themselves pursued, might kill their prisoner. 
The details of Miss Neely's final rescue have not been preserved. 
However, it is known to historians that after remaining in cap- 
tivity among the Creeks for several years, her release was secured 
and she was allowed to return to her friends. Later she married 
a prominent settler at one of the Kentucky stations, living there- 
after a happy life. 

As previously related, Col. Donelson early in May had fixed 
his station at Clover Bottom, near the mouth of Stone's River. 
It was already late in the season, therefore he did not take time 
to build a fort, but constructed a number of cabins with open 
fronts, known in those days as "half camps," into which he moved 
his own family and other members of his party. Beside his 
wife and children. Col. Donelson had with him a number of slaves 
and dependants. He therefore felt the necessity of pitching his 
crop at once that he might be able to provide them with food dur- 



ing the winter. He planted corn in an open field on the south 
side of Stones River, and then crossing over made a small clear- 
ing and planted a patch of cotton on the north shore. These 
crops came up promptly, thrived and gave promise of a fine yield. 
But in the month of July heavy rains fell throughout the Cum- 
berland Valley, causing the river to overflow the bottoms on 
either side. Being now under water, it was supposed that the 
crops in the Clover Bottom were destroyed. This, together with 
the daily increasing danger of Indian attacks, caused the station 
to be abandoned, the settlers going by boat up the Cumberland 
to Edgefield Junction, and thence across the country to Mans- 
ker's Station, where they were received and where they took up 
a second residence. 

In the fall Col. Donelson learned that the crops at Clover 
Bottom had not been destroyed, as he had supposed, but upon 
the receding of the water they had matured and now awaited the 
harvest. Generously wishing to divide with the settlers at the 
Blufif, the latter having suffered loss by reason of the summer 
floods, he proposed to them that a boat party from that plac^ 
should meet a like company from Mansker's at the Clover Bottom 
on a given date for the purpose of gathering the corn and cotton. 
This offer was readily accepted and accordingly about November 
I the two parties met at the place mentioned. The company which 
came from the Bluff was under command of Capt. Abel Gower, 
and beside the latter consisted of Abel Gower, Jr., John Randolph 
Robertson, a relative of Col. James Robertson; William Cart- 
wright and several others, to the number of ten or twelve. Col. 
Donelson himself was not present, but sent his company under 
the direction of his son, Capt. John Donelson, Jr., then a young 
man twenty-six years of age. With him were Hugh Rogan, 
Robert Cartwright and several other white men, together with a 
number of the Donelson slaves. Among the latter was Somerset, 
Col. Donelson's faithful body servant. 


This party had brought with them a horse to use in sledding 
the corn to the boats and also for the purpose of towing the latter 
down Stones River to the Cumberland after they were loaded. 

On their arrival the boats were tied to the bank near where 
the turnpike bridge now spans the stream and all hands began 
the harvest, packing the corn in baskets and sacks, which were 
in turn hauled on a sled to the boats. 

They were thus engaged for three or four days, during which 
time they saw nothing of the enemy. However, they felt some 
uneasiness because of the constant barking of the dogs at night, 
a circumstance which to the settlers indicated that Indians were 
skulking about. During the last night of their stay the dogs were 
much disturbed, rushing as if mad from place to place about 
the camp. By daylight next morning the hands were in the 
field gathering and loading the rest of the corn and making 
ready in all haste for a speedy departure. 



Captain Donelson and his companions got their boat loaded 
first, and, pushing it across to the northern shore, began gather- 
ing the cotton, of which there was only a small amount, heaping 
the bolls on the corn in the boat. It was expected that they would 
be joined directly by the party 'from the Bluff, and that thus 
working together, the task would soon be complete. 

A little later^ however. Captain Donelson was much surprised 
to see the latter rowing on down the river toward home. He 
hailed them and asked if they were not coming over. Captain 
Gower replied in the negative, saying that it was growing late 



and they must reach the Bluff before night, at the same time 
expressing the behef that there was no danger. Donelson began 
a vigorous protest against their going, but while he yet spoke a 
horde of Indians, several hundred strong, opened a terrific fire 
upon the men in Gower's boat. The savages had been gradually 
gathering and were now ambushed in the cane along the south 
bank and near to the corn-ladened craft, which by this time had 
drifted into a narrow channel on that side. At the first fire 
several of the men jumped from the boat and waded through 
the shallow water to the shore, where they were hotly pursued 
by the foe. Captain Gower, his son, and Robertson were killed 
and their bodies lost in the river. Others were slain and fell on 
the corn in the boat. Of the party that reached the shore only 
three, a white man and two negroes, escaped death. 

The white man and one of the negroes wandered through the 
woods without food for nearly two days, finally reaching the 
Bluff. The other survivor, a free negro by the name of Jack 
Cavil, was wounded, captured and carried a prisoner to one of 
the Chickamauga towns near Chattanooga. He afterwards be- 
came notorious as a member of a thieving band of Indian ma- 
rauders who, making headquarters in that region, wrought great 
havoc on the settlements west of the mountains. The village of 
Nickajack, or "Nigger- jack's Town," which was afterwards 
founded, took its name from this captive. 

Gower's boat, containing the bodies of three of the slain, the 
corn and two or three dogs, floated unmolested down to the Bluff, 
where it was sighted during the forenoon of the day following 
the slaughter. It was brought to shore near the foot of what 
is now Broad street. 

After assaulting Captain Gower and his men, the Indians 
started on a run up the river to a point on the shore opposite 
Donelson's boat, but here they found the water too deep to ford. 


Donelson and several of his companions seeing the attack upon 
the other party, had rushed down to their own boat for their 
rifles and shot-bags. Returning they found that the other mem- 
bers of their party, alarmed by the roar of guns and yells of the 
enemy, had fled for safety into the cane. Pausing long enough 
to fire a volley across the river at the savages, they now at- 
tempted to join their comrades. With much difficulty all were 
collected and a council held. It was decided that they should 
abandon the boat and make their way through the woods east 
of the river to a point opposite Edgefield Junction, when an effort 
would be made to cross over and escape to Mansker's. Mr. Cart- 
wright, being old and infirm, was placed on the horse which had 
been brought from the station. All that day they journeyed^ each 
man traveling alone lest any two or more together should make 
a trail which might be found and followed by the enemy. At dusk 
they were called in by a signal and huddled together for the 
night in the leaf-covered top of a large hickory tree which had 
fallen to the ground. The weather was damp and they suffered 
much from cold, but dared not build a fire lest they might be 
discovered. Next morning they tried to construct a raft on which 
to cross the river, but had neither tools nor suitable material out 
of which to make such a craft. Gathering sticks and poles such 
as were found lying about, they fastened them together with grape 
vines and on this made several attempts to go over, but each 
time the current drove them back. Finally this rude conveyance 
was abandoned and allowed to float away. 

At last Somerset volunteered to swim over on the horse and 
ride to Mansker's for help. This he did in safety, thus carrying 
to the Stationer's their first news of the disaster. Several men 
from the station, bringing with them a supply of tools, returned 
with Somerset. By these a strong raft was built on which the 
party was brought over and restored to their friends. 


In these times of danger there was but Httle communication 
between the forts. Therefore for some days after the events 
above related it was supposed by the settlers at the Bluff that the 
Donelson party had been either killed or captured. The shocking 
details of this disaster, which is known in history as the ''Clover 
Bottom Defeat," caused great sorrow among all the people of the 
Cumberland Settlement. The Indians who were responsible for 
this attack were not armed entirely with guns, but many of them 
carried the primitive bows and arrows, using the latter with 
deadly effect. 

After the supposed destruction of his crop by the summer 
flood. Colonel Donelson had contemplated a removal to one of the 
forts in Kentucky, where he had relatives, and where food was 
more abundant. Later on the prospect of obtaining corn had 
caused him to delay, but now that this prospect was gone he 
made ready and began the journey at once, arriving with his 
family in due time at Davis' Station. 

Mansker's fort was now broken up for the winter, Mansker 
and his wife going to Eaton's. Others who were able to secure 
horses, among them being James McCain, followed the Donelson 
party to Kentucky. 

That brave Irishman, Hugh Rogan, than whom none played 
a more heroic part in the early settlement of Middle Tennessee, 
carried William Neely's widow and her family to a place of safety 
in Kentucky, after which he returned to share the dangers of his 
comrades on the Cumberland. Rogan had left his native land 
some years before, coming to seek his fortune in America. He 
tarried for awhile in Virginia, but was among the first of the 
settlers to cross the mountains and seek a home in the far-famed 
hunting ground. After coming to Middle Tennessee he was led 
to believe, through the false representation of a supposed friend, 
that his wife, whom he left in Ireland, had married the second 


time, thinking her husband dead. He remained under this im- 
pression until after the close of the Indian wars. Learning then 
the falsity of the report, he went at once to Ireland and there, 
being happily reunited with his family, brought them to his home 
in Sumner County. He died many years ago. His remains were 
buried and now rest in the old Baskerville burying ground near 
Shiloh Church, in the Tenth District. During the summer of 
1780, Robert Gilkie sickened and died at the Bluff, this being 
the first natural death to occur in the settlement. 

Shortly thereafter Philip Conrad was killed by a falling tree 
near what is now the corner of Cherry and Demonbreun streets, 
in Nashville. 

The first white child born in the Cumberland Settlement was 
Chesed Donelson, son of Capt. John Donelson^ Jr., and wife, Mary 
Purnell. His birth took place in one of the ''half-camps" at 
Clover Bottom on June 22, 1780. He died while yet young. 

A little later in the same year John Saunders was born at 
Mansker's Station. He grew to manhood and afterwards be- 
came Sheriff of Montgomery County. Anna Wells, whose birth 
also occurred this year, was the first girl born in the settlement. 

Because of the scanty supply of food, lack of ammunition 
and danger from the savages, many left the colony during the 
fall, going to the several settlements in Illinois and Kentucky. 
By the first of December only about a hundred and thirty re- 
mained. These were indeed dark days for the pioneers, but 
among the latter were many brave spirits, men and women, who 
resolved to stay at their posts regardless of the cost. They be- 
lieved and so expressed the belief that their newly adopted land, 
so rich in resources and fertile of soil, would in the future become 
a center of civilization and a seat of learning. In this they were 
not mistaken. During these trying times the intrepid spirit and 
unselfish example of Col. James Robertson did much to prevent 


the breaking up of the settlement. Despite his own privations 
and personal bereavements, he looked always with the ,eye 
of an optimist to the future, believing in and advising 
others of the better times yet to come. When the supply of 
fresh meat, their only food, became scarce, mighty hunters 
under the leadership of Spencer, Rains, Jacob Castleman and 
others, braved all dangers and made long excursions into the 
woods, always returning ladened with an abundance and to spare. 
In one winter John Rains is said to have killed thirty-two bears 
in the Harpeth Knobs, seven miles south of the Bluff, and not far 
from the present location of Glendale Park. 

A party of these hunters went in canoes up the Caney Fork 
River, and in the course of a five days' hunt throughout the 
region thereabouts killed a hundred and five bears, seventy-five 
buffalo and eighty-seven deer. After all we little wonder that 
the right to possess such a land should make it for fourteen 
years the bloody battle-ground of pioneer and Indian. 

The first wedding in the colony took place at the Bluff during 
the summer of 1780. It was the marriage of our brave Indian 
fighter, Capt. James Leiper, and the young lady who thus became 
his wife. No minister had yet come to the settlement and a 
question arose as to whether or not any one was authorized to 
perform the marriage ceremony. Colonel Robertson, who was 
Chief Justice of the court, sent out to the other Judges a hurry 
call for a consultation. It was decided by this court that either 
of its members, by virtue of his office, was empowered to exercise 
such a function. This decision was probably more "far-reaching" 
than any yet handed down by the Colonial Judiciary. It consti- 
tutes the first "reported case" in the annals of Tennessee juris- 
prudence. Because of his official position Colonel Robertson was 
accorded the honor of performing this the first ceremony, which 
he is reputed to have done with his usual grace of manner. 


In the fall other weddings occurred as follows : Edward 
Swanson to Mrs. Corwin ; James Freeland, one of the founders of 
Freeland's Station, to Mrs. Maxwell ; John Tucker to Jennie 
Herod, and Cornelius Riddle to Jane Mulherrin. The ceremony 
in each of these instances was performed by James Shaw, one 
of the Judges. Tradition has brought down to us some details 
of the festivities attending the Riddle-Mulherrin nuptials. 

It seems these young people were unusually popular in colonial 
society and their friends were anxious that their marriage should 
be made more than an ordinary event. As the colony was yet in 
its infancy there were no silks, broadcloths or other finery in 
which the bride and groom might array themselves, neither was 
there piano, organ or other instrument on which to play the 
wedding march. Of more consequence, however, than either of 
these was the lack of both flour and meal from which to make the 
wedding cake, and none was to be had at any of the neighboring 
stations. But in those days large difficulties were quickly over- 
come. Accordingly two of the settlers were mounted on horses 
and sent post-haste to Danville, Ky., then the metropolis of the 
western settlement, for a supply of corn. Three or four days 
later they returned with a bushel each of this highly prized cereal, 
which was speedily ground into meal. From this was made the 
first ''bride's cake" in Middle Tennessee. 



LANd's station. PIOMINGO. 

At the close of 1780 the distressed colony was reduced to three 
or four stations, and lack of ammunition made impossible a 
long-continued defense of these. Therefore in the early part of 


December Colonel Robertson, accompanied by his son, together 
with his friend, Isaac Bledsoe, and a negro servant, had set out 
on a journey to Harrod's Station, Kentucky, for the purpose of 
securing a supply of powder and lead. The undertaking was one 
of extreme hazard, but they passed through the Indian lines and 
arrived at HarrodsbUrg in safety. Here they received their first 
news of the splendid victory which had been gained by the Ameri- 
can forces over the British at King's Mountain, in October pre- 
ceding. In this memorable battle their friends from East Ten- 
nessee, under the leadership of Col. John Sevier and Isaac Shelby, 
had played a most heroic part. On receiving the news Isaac 
Bledsoe is said to have exclaimed, "If Sevier and Shelby can 
handle the combined force of British and Tories, can we not 
whip the Indians in the backwoods?" 

The party was given a hearty welcome at Harrodsburg, but 
because of the depleted condition of the store they were unable 
to secure ammunition, and accordingly journeyed on to Boones- 
borough. Here they found Daniel Boone, who in former days 
had been a comrade of both Robertson and Bledsoe, and who 
cheerfully divided with them his supply. But this was too 
scanty and the amount they thus received was not enough to 
last through the winter. It was therefore decided that Colonel 
Robertson, his son and servant, should return at once to the 
Cumberland with what they had, and that Bledsoe should go 
across to Watauga and there lay before Colonel Sevier the urgent 
needs of the Western Settlement. This he did and came back 
later to the Cumberland^ bringing with him an abundant supply 
of ammunition. He brought his family also, the latter having 
hitherto remained in East Tennessee. 

In the meantime Colonel Robertson had returned to the set- 
tlement, having crossed over to his station at the Bluff on the 
afternoon of January 15, 1781. There he learned that on January 


II, four days previous to his return, another son had been born 
to him, the late Dr. Felix Robertson, for many years an honored 
citizen and prominent physician of Nashville. 

Upon his arrival Colonel Robertson hastily divided his ammu- 
nition with his men at the BlufT and went out to spend the night 
at Freeland's, where his wife and child were staying with friends. 
This fort was, in the matter of construction, very much as the 
one at the Bluff, the latter having been previously described. 
There were a number of one and two-story cabins built near 
together, the whole being surrounded by a stockade, thus form- 
ing an enclosure. To this there was but one entrance, a gate 
which was fastened each night by a heavy chain. Within the 
fort that night were eleven men and a number of women and 
children. One of the former was Major Lucas, who before com- 
ing to the Cumberland had served as an officer under Colonel 
Sevier in several expeditions from Watauga against the Indians. 
He had also been one of the founders of the local government of 
Watauga. The negro man who came with Colonel Robertson 
and his party over the mountains in 1779 for the purpose of rais- 
ing a corn crop at French Lick, as it was then called, was also 
in the fort at this time. 

The scouts, among them Jacob Castleman, had come into the 
fort about dark on the evening above mentioned and reported 
no signs of Indians, therefore no danger was feared. Having 
had a late supper the occupants of the fort did not retire at an 
early hour, but by eleven o'clock all were asleep except Colonel 
Robertson. The latter was known among the Indians as the 
"Chief who never sleeps," and was probably more alert than 
usual now by reason of his recent experience in sleeping out of 
doors on his return journey from Kentucky through a dangerous 
and lonely forest. Major Lucas and the negro man, together 
with several others, occupied a newly built cabin in which the 


cracks had not yet been chinked. A full moon shone from a clear 
sky and the night was one of surpassing beauty. 

About midnight Colonel Robertson heard a rattling of the 
chain and looked out just in time to see the gate open and a 
band of a hundred and fifty Indians, who proved to be Chicka- 
sawS; come rushing into the fort. He at once gave the alarm and 
seizing his rifle fired through the window at the approaching 
savages. The report of Robertson's rifle awoke Major Lucas, 
who sprang out of bed and rushed through the door of his cabin 
into the yard. He was immediately surrounded by the savages 
and fell mortally wounded, pierced by a dozen shots. The set- 
tlers were now thoroughly aroused and began firing at the In- 
dians through windows and port-holes, the women lending all 
the aid possible. Surprised at this vigorous assault from within 
the savages ran out of the fort after the first volley and renewed 
the attack from the outside. Some of them went around to the 
back of the cabin from which Major Lucas had come and began 
firing through the cracks at the men within. During this fusil- 
lade they killed the negro man above mentioned. The onslaught 
was terrific and for a time the fortunes of the conflict wavered. 
Round after round was fired from within and from without. 
The attacking party, in their savage thirst for blood, rushed 
from place to place about the fort, jumping high into the air, all 
the time whooping and yelling like demons. They lighted brands 
and made repeated attempts to set fire to the roofs and walls of 
the cabins, but the brands and logs were too green to burn. 
For six hours this attack was kept up, but just as the gray light 
of the morning dawn came over the eastern hills the little cannon 
which had come around on the good boat Adventure, and which 
was now mounted on the fort at the Blufif, opened its brazen lips 
and a solitary "boom" echoed along the Cumberland. Capt. John 
Rains was thus saying to Colonel Robertson and his beleaguered 


comrades that he had been apprised of their danger and would be 
along directly with reinforcements. The Indians, who stood in 
great fear of a cannon, heard the shot, too, and knowing that 
the settlement was now thoroughly aroused, began a hasty re- 
treat. However, they were joined during the morning by a party 
of Cherokees, and together for several days thereafter they con- 
tinued to infest the neighborhood roundabout, plundering and 

In the attack on Freeland's only Lucas and the negro man, of 
the settlers, were killed, and none were wounded. Next morning 
no less than five hundred bullets were dug from the walls of the 
cabin in which these men had been sleeping. One Indian was shot 
in the head by Colonel Robertson. His body was found partially 
covered with dirt the next day some distance away in the woods 
where it had been left by his fleeing comrades. No one knew 
how many of the dead had been carried ofif, but the bloodstains 
about the fort and along the trails leading therefrom indicated 
that a number were either killed or wounded. Had it not been 
for the timely presence of Colonel Robertson on the night of the 
attack the fort must surely have fallen into the hands of the 
enemy. His vigilance on this, as well as on many subsequent 
occasions, saved the settlers from slaughter. This was the first 
and only attack ever made on the settlement by the Chickasaws. 
Soon thereafter Colonel Robertson had a "peace talk" with 
Piomingo, the Chickasaw chief, forming with him an alliance 
which gave to the pioneers the everlasting friendship of this 
famous warrior and his people. At heart the Chickasaws hated 
the Cherokees, who were the relentless foes of the whites. Though 
they had on previous occasions allied themselves with the Chero- 
kees, they now joined the settlers in expeditions against them. 

Piomingo was a striking figure among the noted Indian rulers 
of his day. He is described as having been of medium height, 


well proportioned in body, and as possessing a face of 
intelligence. Though at the time of his visit to Bledsoe's Lick 
more than a hundred years old, he strode the earth with the 
grace of a youth. His dress was of white buckskin, and his hair, 
which he wore hanging down his back in the form of a scalp- 
lock, was, by reason of his great age, as white as snow. This 
was clasped round about on top of his head by a set of silver 
combs. Despite the early offenses of his tribe the name of 
Piomingo deserves an honored place in the annals of Middle 
Tennessee because of the generous deeds of his later years. 



In the summer of 1780, John and Daniel Dunham had located 
on that splendid body of land near French Lick, now known as 
Belle Meade. Having in the meantime built thereon a log house 
and made some other improvements, they were now obliged to 
move their families back to the fort at the Bluff for protection. 
A few days later Mrs. Dunham sent her little daughter to the 
woodpile, about three hundred yards up the hill, and near where 
the Maxwell House now stands, for a basket of chips. Some 
Indians were concealed in a fallen treetop near by. When the 
child came up they sprang out, seized her by the hair and tore off 
her scalp. Attracted by her cries the terrified mother was 
wounded by a shot from the Indians as she ran up the hill toward 
them. In the meantime the men from the fort had armed them- 
selves and came rushing to the rescue, but at sight of them the 
savages fled into the surrounding thickets and escaped. Both 
mother and daughter recovered and lived for many years there- 


after. During the months of February and March the stations 
were free from attack and the hope was ventured that since their 
faikire to capture Freeland's fort the savages were disheartened 
and had abandoned hostiHties. However, in this they were 
doomed to bitter disappointment. Their success during the pre- 
vious year in breaking up the various stations had been so marked 
that they were yet determined not to yield their favorite hunting 
ground without a deadly struggle. 

On the night of April i a war party of about four hundred 
Cherokees advanced on the Bluff Station and lay in ambush 
about the fort. It was doubtless a part of their plan to destroy 
this at one blow and then, acting in concert with reinforcements 
from other tribes already on the march hither, to quickly exter- 
minate the smaller colonies at Eaton's and Bledsoe's. The plan 
of attack was well laid. About two hundred of the party con- 
cealed themselves in the wild-brush and cedars which grew on 
the hillside along Cherry street, between Church and Broad. The 
remainder of the band went down and lay along the bank of a 
small stream which ran south of Broad street, near to and parallel 
with Demonbreun and into the river near'the foot of Broad. Early 
next morning three of the Indians, sent out as decoys, came near 
the fort, fired at the sentinel in the watch-tower, and then ran back 
some distance, where they halted to reload their guns. All this 
time they were shouting and waving their hands as if to attract 

Unable to resist this challenge, and not suspecting the trap 
which had been laid, about twenty of the settlers saddled their 
horses and, led by Colonel Robertson, dashed out of the fort and 
down the hill toward the retreating savages. The latter kept 
themselves in sight, however, and by their mockeries still tempting 
the whites onward, finally made a stand on the bank of the branch 
near the intersection of College and Demonbreun. The settlers 


had by this time crossed Broad and, now dismounting, gave battle. 
No sooner were they on the ground than a swarm of savages 
arose from their hiding places immediately in front and poured 
a deadly fire into the ranks of the whites. At this the horses of 
the latter took fright and breaking away from their masters, 
started on a run up the hill toward the fort. In the meantime 
the party concealed along College street had come out, and rais- 
ing a warwhoop, were stringing along Church street toward the 
river in an effort to completely cut off the retreat of Robertson 
and his men to the fort. The position of the latter was now, 
indeed, one of extreme peril, and had the Indians carried out their 
plan the little company must certainly have perished, every man. 
But at this juncture the horses came dashing through the line. 
Many of the savages, unable to resist such a temptation, now 
broke ranks and pursued the frightened animals in an effort to 
capture them. The horses ran up to the fort, but finding the 
gate closed, went on over Capitol Hill and down into the Sulphur 
Spring Bottom, closely followed by the Indians. A few of them 
were captured, but the larger number returned later to the fort, 
where they were admitted to a place of safety. 

The battle down on Broad continued. Capt. James Leiper, 
Peter Gill, Alex. Buchanan, John Kesenger, Zachariah White, 
George Kennedy and John Kennedy had been killed and Kasper 
Mansker, James Manifee and Joseph Moonshaw were wounded. 
The rest of the settlers were now fighting desperately and mak- 
ing their way as best they could toward the station, dragging 
with them their disabled comrades. 

Shut up in the fort was a pack of fifty dogs. These, by in- 
stinct and training, hated the Indians, and during the progress 
of the battle were charging madly around the enclosure in an 
effort to get into the fray. Mrs. James Robertson, who with the 
other women of the fort, had been watching with breathless alarm 


the varying fortunes of the battle, now directed the sentinel to 
open the gate and let the dogs out. History has not recorded 
a more vigorous onslaught than that made at this time by these 
noble brutes in defense of their masters. Rushing furiously down 
the hill and into the ranks of the enemy, they sprang at the 
throats of the latter and for a time completely arrested the efforts 
of the savages, who were utterly surprised by this attack from 
such an unexpected source. This incident and the flight of the 
horses turned the tide for the whites and saved to them the day. 
It is said that Mrs. Robertson stood at the gate after the battle 
and, patting each dog on the head as he came into the fort^ said 
she "thanked God that he had given Indians a love for horses and 
a fear of dogs." 

As soon as the attention of the Indians was diverted by the 
attack of the dogs, the settlers started on a run for the fort, still 
carrying with them the wounded. In this retreat Isaac Lucas, 
brother of Major Lucas, who had been killed at Freeland's, was 
shot down, his thigh being broken. He was in the rear and the 
other members of the party having already passed on, could not 
return to lend him aid. As he fell he turned his face toward the 
advancing foe, determined to fight to the death. Quickly prim- 
ing his gun, he took aim at a big Indian in front of the pursuing 
party and shot him dead In his tracks. Some of the men had now 
reached cover of the fort and seeing the dangerous position of 
Lucas, began firing at the savages, whereupon they turned and 
fled. Dragging himself to a place of safety the wounded man 
escaped Into the fort. After lying on his back for a few weeks 
this hardy pioneer arose and went about his work with only a 
little lameness as a result of his wound. 

Edward Swanson, whose marriage is recorded as having taken 
place only a short time before, was also one of this retreating 
party. LIIs rifle having been knocked from his hand by one of 



the enemy when only a short distance from the gate, he tnrned 
upon the savage and, seizmg his gun barrel, began a struggle for 
its possession. Finally the Indian wrested it from Swanson and 
struck the latter a blow which felled him to the ground. All this 
time the men within the fort had been watching the contest, but 
were afraid to shoot lest they might wound their comrade. How- 
ever, seeing that Swanson would be killed unless relief was given, 
John Buchanan now rushed out of the gate and fired at the In- 
dian, inflicting a mortal wound. The latter supported himself 
against a stump nearby for a short time and then hobbled off 
into the woods, where his dead body was afterwards found. 
Swanson was carried into the fort and afterwards recovered. 

Thus ended the "Battle of the Blufif." The Indians scalped 
the settlers who had been left dead on the field, and taking with 
them such guns and ammunition as had been left, retired to the 
woods about lO a. m. Just how many of the attacking party 
were killed is not known. The bodies of several were found at 
various places in the forest round about, and by reason of the 
Indian custom it is supposed that a number of their dead and 
wounded were carried away. 

That night another feeble attack was made on the fort, 
presumably by a party that had failed to arrive in time to take 
part in the battle of the morning. They were plainly to be seen 
gathered in a group several hundred yards west of the station. 
They had fired only a few rounds when Colonel Robertson deter- 
mined to give them a shot from the cannon. Some of the men 
protested that they could not spare the powder, and that there 
were no cannon balls in their stock of ammunition. However, 
over these objections the piece was well loaded with broken 
horseshoes, scraps of lead and bits of pottery. Behind this was 
a heavy charge of powder, each settler having contributed a small 
amount from his flask. Despite constant danger and privation 


there was yet left to the Stationers a fine sense of humor. Every- 
thing being in readiness, the spark was appHed. Many cannon, 
both great and small, in peace and in war, have since that time 
been fired on the Cumberland, but probably none has ever made 
quite so loud a report as did this little swivel as it broke the 
stillness of that April night. The party of redskins toward which 
the shot was directed quickly vanished and were seen no more. 
The scarred and broken tree trunks and saplings in the neighbor- 
hood of where they stood, afterwards paid silent but eloquent 
tribute to the wisdom of their unceremonious departure. Sup- 
posing this shot to be a signal of distress^ a party from Eaton's 
Station soon arrived on the opposite bank of the river and called 
for boats to bring them over. Two men were quietly slipped down 
the bank behind the fort and made the crossing and return in 
safety, bringing their friends into the Blufif Station, There the 
visitors spent the night, keeping watch in the tower until day- 

A few days later William Hood and Peter Ren f roe were killed 
in North Nashville; Hood in the McGavock addition near Free- 
land's, and Renfroe between there and the sulphur spring. The 
enemy now lay in wait by every path and along every trail until 
it was perilous to attempt passage from one fort to another, while 
others in bands hovered around, shooting cattle, killing and driv- 
ing the game from the woods, and committing every other con- 
ceivable depredation in order that the food supply might be ex- 
hausted and the unwelcome emigrants thus forced to abandon 
their newly-acquired land, 





WM. m'murry killed. 

About the close of the year 1781 the settlers enjoyed a brief 
season of quiet, but early in February following, signs of the 
enemy again appeared. Soon thereafter John Tucker and Joseph 
Hendrix were fired upon near the sulphur spring while returning 
by the buffalo trail from Freeland's to the Bluff. Each had an 
arm broken, but in the race which followed they reached the 
fort ahead of the savages. Having grown careless they had on 
this occasion gone out unarmed, a mistake seldom made by the 

From this attack it was evident that the Indians were again 
on the warpath, and a signal gun was fired to^warn the residents 
of Freeland's and Eaton's. A party of scouts set out at once 
from the Bluff in search of the band which had made the attack 
on Tucker and Hendrix, but they had made good their escape. 

A few days later David Hood was traveling the same road 
from Freeland's to the Bluff. When in the sulphur spring bot- 
tom several Indians who were hiding in the cane gave chase, 
firing at him as he ran. Thinking there was no chance for escape 
Hood fell forward on his face, feigning death. The savages, 
coming up, gathered about him, and concluding that he was dead, 
one of them twisted his fingers in the hair of their victim and 
with a dull knife deliberately sawed off his scalp. This operation 
Hood endured without moving a muscle or uttering a groan. 
His tormentors then stamped him several times on the back with 
their feet and journeyed on toward the fort. When their foot- 
steps were no longer heard he raised his head cautiously and 
seeing no sign of danger, got up and started toward the Bluff. 


For some reason the Indians had halted just over the hill, and 
Hood, following them unawares, suddenly found himself again 
in their presence. They promptly fell upon him the second time, 
and after inflicting what they supposed to be mortal wounds, 
threw his body on a brush heap and left him for dead. Next 
morning he was found by some of the settlers, who, thinking him 
dead, carried him to the station and placed him in an outhouse 
adjoining. Some of the women went out to see him and insisted 
there were signs of life in the body. At their direction he was 
taken into the fort, his wounds dressed and restoratives admin- 
istered. He soon recovered and by midsummer was able to be 
about his work. 

Hood was a cooper by trade and a bachelor. He was long and 
lank of body, a great wag, and withal a noted character among 
the early settlers. He lived at Nashborough for many years after 
the events above described. The settlers at Kilgore's Station, in 
Robertson County, had so far been undisturbed. They had come 
to suppose that because of their distance from the other forts 
they were free from attack. In this, however, they were doomed 
to disappointment. The sharp eye of the avenging savage had 
spied them out. Late in the summer of 1782 Samuel Martin and 
Isaac Johnson, two occupants of the station, were captured near 
by and taken prisoners into the Creek Nation. Johnson soon 
escaped and returned to the fort, but Martin remained with his 
captors for about a year. He came home elegantly dressed, wear- 
ing silver spurs on his boots and bringing with him two valuable 
horses. It was currently reported and generally believed that 
during the period of his alleged captivity he had accompanied 
the Creeks on some of their marauding expeditions and shared 
with them the captured booty. 

In the fall two young men by the name of Mason went from 
Kilgore's to Clay Lick to watch for deer. They hid in a canebrake 



close by, and while thus in waiting seven Indians came to the 
Lick, probably for the same purpose as themselves. The Masons 
fired and killed two of them, the remainder of the band retreating. 
Elated at this easy victory the young men hastened back to the 
fort and there were joined by three or four of the settlers with 
whom they returned to the lick and scalped the dead Indians. 

Late the same evening John and Ephraim Peyton, en route 
from Bledsoe's Station to Kentucky^ stopped at Kilgore's to 
spend the night. When they arose to pursue their journey next 
morning they discovered that their horses^ together with some of 
those belonging to the settlement, had been stolen. Suspicion 
at once pointed to a band of Indians who at that time were prowl- 
ing around the neighborhood. Pursuit was made and the thieves 
overtaken on Peyton's Creek, a stream afterwards so called 
because of this incident. The whites opened fire, killing one of 
the band and retaking all of the horses. On their return, and 
while they were encamped for the night, the Indians made a cir- 
cuit and lay in ambush at a point in the road between them and 
the fort. As the whites were going on toward home next morning 
the savages poured into their ranks a deadly fire, killing Josiah 
Hoskins and one of the Masons. The bodies of these were car- 
ried to the fort and buried nearby. The settlers at Kilgore's now 
became so much alarmed that they moved to the Bluff, thus break- 
ing up their station. Among those residing at Kilgore's Station 
at the time it was broken up were the Kilgores, Moses and Am- 
brose Maulding, Jesse Simons and others. 

The occupants of all the forts were at this time so much 
harassed that they could neither plant nor cultivate their fields. 
Sentinels must be stationed on every side, and even while one 
person knelt at a spring to drink another must stand ready, rifle 
in hand, to shoot a creeping savage who might suddenly appear. 
If three or four were assembled on the open ground on business 


or for social visitation,. they dared not face each other, but stand- 
ing back to back, they looked north^ south, east and west, watch- 
ing in every direction for the stealthy approach of a skulking foe. 
A general council was now called to consider the best interests 
of the settlement. Many favored a removal to a place of greater 
safety. This, however, was vigorously opposed by Colonel 
Robertson. He pointed out to the assembled colonists the impos- 
sibility of escape either to East Tennessee or to the forts in Ken- 
tucky, as all the roads thither were now known to be heavily 
guarded by the Indians, in evident anticipation of such an at- 
tempt. He argued that a journey could not be made by water to 
Natchez or Kaskaskia. There were no means of transportation. 
Nearly all the boats belonging to the Donelson flotilla had been 
dismantled and the material used in building cabins and out- 
houses adjacent thereto, and it would be imprudent at this time 
to venture into the woods for material with which to build another 
fleet. Thus in whatever way they might begin the journey they 
would be surely stalking into the jaws of death. Indeed, this 
meeting marked a crisis in the history of the settlement. Before 
its adjournment all came to recognize the fact that conditions and 
not theory nuist guide their deliberations, and the idea of re- 
moval was abandoned. Later in the fall of this year General 
Daniel Smith, Hugh Rogan and William McMurry were traveling 
the buffalo trail from Bledsoe's to Mansker's Lick. When near 
the present site of Cragfont, the ancient home of Gen. James 
Winchester, in the First Civil District of Sumner County, a party 
of Indians opened fire upon them, kilhng McMurry and wounding 
General Smith. The gun of the latter fell from his hands, but 
he caught it up again, and, with Rogan, began a fusillade with 
the enemy, who soon got the worst of it and ran, making their 
escape into the tall cane. General Smith recovered and after- 
wards became Secretary of the territorial government and later 



succeeded Andrew Jackson as Senator from Tennessee in the 
Congress of the United States. He was born in Fanguier County, 
Virginia, October 29, 1748; was a skilled civil engineer, and by 
actual survey made the first map of the State of Tennessee. Com- 
ing to Middle Tennessee at an early period in its history, he mar- 
ried a daughter of Col. John Donelson, and selected a fine body 
of land on Drake's Creek, near Hendersonville, in Sumner Coun- 
ty. Here in 1784 he built "Rock Castle," his historic residence, 



which Still stands. Under General Smith's own supervision it 
was built from stone taken from a quarry a few hundred yards 
away. The land on which it stands is now the property of his 
great-granddaughter, Mrs. Horatio Berry, of Hendersonville. 
( leneral Smith died at Rock Castle, June 16, 1818, and was buried 
ill the family cemetery nearby. 






With the beginning of 1783 prospects of peace began to 
brighten. News of tlie surrender of CornwalHs and the ac- 
knowledged independence of the American colonies came over 
the mountains and caused great rejoicing on the western frontier. 
In its wake came a number of emigrants to take the place of 
those who had removed to other localities. The colonies at 
Boonesborough, Harrodsburg and Davis' Station, in Kentucky, 
were also augmented by emigrants from the East. During this 
year the first dry goods store west of the Allegheny Mountains 
was established at Louisville, the goods with which it was 
stocked being brought on pack horses from Philadelphia. Soon 
thereafter Col. James Wilkinson established a second store at 

Because of a feeling of greater security which now prevailed, 
some of the Cumberland stations formerly abandoned were re- 
occupied and others established. Kasper Mansker and his asso- 
ciates who for two years had been living at Eaton's and the Bluff, 
selected a site on the east side of Mansker's Creek a mile above 
the old station, and there built a new fort. The Ashers also re- 
turned to their station southeast of Gallatin. 

In the early spring Maj. John Buchanan and the Mulherrins 
selected land and built a fort four miles east of Nashborough, near 
where the Lebanon branch of the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. 
Louis Railroad crosses Mill Creek. This was known as Buch- 
anan's Station and some years later was the scene of a vigorous 
assault by the Indians. 

During this year Anthony Bledsoe, Absalom Tatom and Isaac 

io6 p:arly history of middle Tennessee 

Shelby, who afterwards became the first Governor of Kentucky, 
were sent over as a commission from North Carohna charged 
with the duty of laying off to certain soldiers lands in the Cum- 
berland Valley. This was in payment for services rendered in 
the recent war of the Revolution. Bledsoe, who was accom- 
panied thither by his family, decided to remain in the settlement. 
In the fall he established a station at Greenfield, about two and 
a half miles north of his brother Isaac's fort at Bledsoe's Lick, 
and on a beautiful eminence in one of the richest bodies of land 
in Sumner County. The site is on the farm now owned by Wil- 
liam Chenault. About the same time James McCain, James 
Franklin, Elmore Douglass^ Charles Carter and others built a fort 
on the west side of Big Station Camp Creek in Sumner County. 
It w^as located at a point south of where the Long Hollow turnpike 
crosses that stream. This site is near Douglass Chapel and on 
the land owned by Mrs. Ellen Brown, wife of the late Dr. Alfred 

Because of an almost incessant warfare with the Indians the 
Court of Triers had held but few sessions since its creation two 
years before and of these no official record had been kept. It 
now began to sit regularly, the first recorded session being held 
on January 7, 1783. At this time the following Judges were 
present, to wit : James Robertson, George Freeland, Thomas 
Molloy, Isaac Lindsey, David Roundsevall, Heydon Wells, James 
Maulding, Ebenezer Titus, Samuel Benton and Andrew Ewing. 
At a second meeting held on January icS, Isaac Bledsoe and Capt. 
John Blackmore appeared and took the oath of office, completing 
the twelve, and thus constituting a full bench. 

Numerous sessions were held this year at which a number of 
orders were made and decisions rendered. On February 5, John 
Montgomery was sworn in as sheriff of the district, and Andrew 
Ewing, one of their number, was made clerk of the court. Mont- 


o-oiiiery was later deposed from office because he was suspected 
of being in league with the ''Colbert Gang," a notorious band of 
river pirates who infested the Cumberland, Tennessee and Mis- 
sissippi Rivers. Thomas Fletcher was selected by the court to 
fill out Montgomery's unexpired term. 

The minutes of this court as preserved by the Tennessee His- 
torical Society are at once unique and interesting. By an order 
made at the February term the sheriff was commanded to take 
the body of John Sasseed, keep it safely and bring it before the 
court on the first day of March following, then and there to 
satisfy a judgment for twenty pounds and cost of suit, recently 
rendered against said Sasseed and in favor of John Tucker. 

At the August meeting of the court one of the cases heard 
was that of Frederick Stump against Isaac Renfroe. This suit 
was over certain property hidden away at the breaking up of Ren- 
froe's Station, on Red River. Renfroe had left there at that 
time a quantity of iron which he had later sold "sight unseen" to 
Stump, who was a miller and blacksmith. Renf roe's brother 
James afterwards brought away a part of this iron, placing it in 
the custody of David Roundsevall. vStump, hearing of this action, 
forthwith attached the estate of Isaac Renfroe, seeking to hold 
same for the loss thus sustained. He also caused to be issued 
a garnishment against Roundsevall. The latter answered, but 
declined to make defense. The facts appearing to the court as 
alleged, judgment was given against Renfroe for a hundred and 
sixty dollars and costs. However, the court considered that the 
iron in Roundsevall's possession was of equal value and it was 
ordered delivered to the plaintiff in satisfaction of all claims. 

This year six spies were em])loyed by the settlement. It was 
their duty to continually scout through the woods and thus dis- 
cover, if possible^ the movements of the savages. They were un- 
der the direction of Colonel Robertson and Isaac Rledsoe, and 


were paid seventy-five bushels of corn per month in compen- 
sation for services rendered. As fifty dollars per bushel was 
considered a reasonable price for corn on the Cumberland at that 
time it would seem that th^ir wages were ample. However, their 
duties were full of peril. The record shows that most of the spies 
employed from time to time in defense of the settlement met 
death at the hands of the Indians. The latter exhibited an 
especial delight in taking them captive, torturing them, and muti- 
lating their bodies after death. In the month of March Colonel 
Robertson was elected to represent the settlement in the North 
Carolina Legislature, which was then in session. He set out at 
once for Hillsborough, the State capital, traveling the entire 
distance of seven hundred miles alone and at his own expense. 
While there he secured the passage of an act establishing an ''In- 
ferior Court of Pleas and Quarter Session" at Nashborough. 
This tribunal, which took the place of the Court of Judges 
and Triers, consisted of eight members, appointed by the Gov- 
ernor from the citizenship of the settlement. It was clothed 
with military, legislative and judicial powers. As members of 
the court the Governor issued a commission each to Isaac Bled- 
soe, Samuel Barton, Isaac Lindsey, Francis Prince, James Rob- 
ertson, Thomas Molloy, Anthony Bledsoe and Daniel Smith. 

The peace which for several months had been maintained was 
now broken, and the fury of the savages was again upon the set- 
tlement. Roger Top was killed and Roger Glass wounded at Rains' 
Station, in Waverly Place. William, Joseph and Daniel Dunham, 
were all killed, while prospecting on Richland Creek, and Joshua 
Norrington and Joel Mills soon thereafter met a like fate. Patsy, 
daughter of John Raines, with Betsy Williams behind her, was 
riding on horseback in West Nashville when they were fired upon 
and the latter killed. Miss Raines escaped uninjured and fled 
in safety to the blufif. Joseph Nolan lost his life while alone in 


the woods, and a while thereafter his father, Thomas Nolan, 
was also killed. The Indians crept up to Buchanan's Station, 
only recentlly established, and killed Samuel Buchanan and Wil- 
liam Mulherrin, who were guarding the fort. William Overall 
and Joshua Thomas were ambushed and shot while en route from 
the Cumberland Settlement to Kentucky. Finally the enemy came 
at night to the Bluff, stole all the horses around the country- 
side and began a hasty flight toward the South. A company of 
twenty soldiers under command of Captain Pruett pursued them 
to a point beyond Duck River. There they overtook the Indians, 
wdiom they fired upon and dispersed. Recovering the stolen 
horses the whites recrossed the river and camped for the night 
on the northern shore. The Indians followed them over in the 
darkness, and at daybreak made an attack on the camp, during 
which they killed Moses Brown. Thus surprised, the whites fled 
from the canebrake in which the camp was located to a higher 
point on the open ground in the rear. There they reformed and 
awaited the approach of the enemy. The latter, who were far 
superior to them in numbers, came up in good order and a fierce 
battle ensued. Captain Pruett's men were put to rout and fled 
in all haste to the Bluff, leaving Daniel Pruett and Daniel John- 
son dead on the field. Morris Shine and several others were 
wounded, but escaped by the aid of their comrades. The In- 
dians recaptured all the stolen horses, together with those belong- 
ing to the men who had been killed. This defeat was a great 
misfortune, coming as it did at a time when the strength of the 
enemy was somewhat on the wane. Captain Pruett had only 
recently come to the settlement, and though a trained soldier, 
was unskilled in Indian warfare. At the beginning of the attack 
he reproved his men for sheltering behind rocks and trees, insist- 
ing that they should line up in the open and fight as in regular 
warfare. They obeyed his command and thus met disastrous 


During April or May, 1783, the State of Virginia appointed 
a commission to visit the Cumberland Settlement and there make 
a treaty with the Southern tribes. This action aroused some in- 
dignation on the part of the settlers. They desired to know by 
what authority representatives of another State could come upon 
soil of North Carolina for such a purpose. They also doubted 
the wisdom of assembling around the stations a large party of 
the enemy whom they had so long fought^ and of whom the 
people stood in such continuous dread. Added to the danger 
with which such action was fraught was also the expense of fur- 
nishing food to so large a company for an indefinite period. On 
the other hand it was argued that such a gathering might bring 
about peace, a condition above all others to be desired. 

To determine the will of the people on this subject an election 
was held at the various stations on June 5. Colonel Robertson 
and the leading men of the settlement generally voted against the 
proposition, but a summing up of the returns showed that it was 
favored by a majority of the settlement, and in pursuance thereof 
the Indians and commissioners were invited to assemble. 

The council took place the latter part of June at the big spring 
four miles northwest of Nashville on the east side of the Char- 
lotte turnpike. The body of land surrounding this spring had 
already -been selected by Colonel Robertson as his homestead, 
and thereon he later built a brick residence, which stood for many 
years after his death. This was also the site of the old Nashville 
camp-ground. Thither came the chiefs and head warriors of the 
Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws and Chickasaws, bedecked in all 
their savage regalia and accompanied by a vast horde of squaws 
and papooses^ and as is the latter-day custom of these tribes in 
the West on such occasion, they brought with them all the dogs, 
cats, chickens, geese and other domestic animals and fowls, such 
as they happen to possess. On the whole the assembly was in- 



deed a motley crew. However, they were received in a cordial 
manner by the settlers, by whom they were well fed and other- 
wise provided for during a stay of a week or ten days. There 
were provided for the occasion various kinds of amusement, such 
as foot races^ ball games and jumping contests, in which the 
visitors engaged with great zest. They were delighted with the 
reception accorded and some friendships were formed which 
proved of value to the settlers in after years. 

Col. John Donelson, at that time living in Kentucky, and 
Colonel Martin represented Virginia at this council, and by the 
end of June a treaty was concluded ceding to the whites a scope 
of country extending forty miles south of the Cumberland to 
the watershed of Elk and Duck Rivers. But this agreement was 
likewise between an individual State and the Indians instead of 
being between the latter and the Federal Government. It was 
therefore open to legal objctions and was later declared void. 
However, the occasion of its making was of benefit to the settlers 
by reason of the personal association above mentioned, and also 
because it served to further cement the friendship already exist- 
ing between them and the Chickasaws. The Creeks and Chero- 
kees, as was their custom, violated all the terms of the treaty 
and soon thereafter were preying upon the settlement with char- 
acteristic cruelty. 

Though this treaty was rendered void, its principal features 
were included in that made by the Government with the same 
tribes at Hopewell^ South Carolina, in November, 1785. 

On April 14, 1783, the Legislature of North Carolina estab- 
lished Davidson County. It was so named in honor of Gen. Wil- 
liam Davidson, of North Carolina, who was killed on the Catawba 
while trying to check the British troops in pursuit of General 
Morgan on his march from the battle of the Cow^pens. The 
boundary of Davidson at that time included the entire populated 
portion of Middle Tennessee. 


The first act of the Davidson County Court was to order the 
building of a courthouse and jail, the contract for these structures 
being let soon thereafter. The former was eighteen feet square and 
of hewed logs. There was also on one side of the building a lean- 
to, or shed, twelve feet long. The site of the present courthouse 
on the Public Square in Nashville was selected for its location. 
The jail building was also built of hewed logs, each a foot square. 




On January 6, 1784, the Court of Pleas and Common Sessions, 
all the Judges present, convened at Nashborough and proceeded 
to exercise the military arm of its power by reorganizing the mili- 
tia. Officers were elected as follows : Anthony Bledsoe, First 
Colonel ; Isaac Bledsoe, First Major ; Samuel Barton, Second 
Major; Kasper Mansker, First Captain; George Freeland, Second 
Captain ; John Buchanan, Third Captain ; James Ford, Fourth 
Captain; William Ramsey, Jonathan Drake, Ambrose Maulding 
and Peter Sides, Lieutenants ; William Collins and Elmore Doug- 
lass, Ensigns, and Daniel Smith, Surveyor. The court met for 
the April term some distance out of Nashborough in a vacant 
house owned by Jonathan DrakeV Probably because of some 
question as to its right to sit so far from the designated place, 
an immediate adjournment was taken to the residence of Israel 
Herman, who lived near the Blufif fort. By an act of the Legis- 
lature of North Carolina in May of this year the name of the 
village which had grown up around the Blufif was changed from 
Nashborough to Nashville, and such it has since remained. Fre- 
quent excursions for purposes of murder and plunder continued 


to be made by the Indians. Cornelius Riddle was hunting be- 
tween Buchanan's Station and Stones River. He killed two 
wild turkeys and hung them up in a tree while he went in pursuit 
of another. The Indians who were skulking in the neighborhood 
heard the report of his gun, and coming near lay in ambush 
awaiting his return. He was shot and mortally wounded. The 
enemy took his scalp, and then seizing the turkeys, fled hastily 
from a vengeance which they knew would otherwise be swift. 

In the early spring Nicholas Trammel and Philip Mason were 
stalking game along the headwaters of White's Creek, a few 
miles northwest of Goodlettsville. While they were down on the 
ground skinning a deer which had been killed a large company 
of Indians crept up from behind and opened fire, slightly wound- 
ing Mason. They then stole the carcass of the deer and pursued 
their journey up the creek. After running some distance through 
the woods Mason stopped to dress his wound and also to await 
the return of Trammel, who went on to Eaton's for reinforce- 
ments. Later Trammel came back with four of the settlers, and 
being joined by Mason, the entire party started post-haste after 
the enemy. They soon found the trail and followed rapidly, but 
in tlicir liaste failed to notice that the large number of tracks they 
were following had grown less. The Indians, suspecting pursuit, 
has gradually slipped aside, one and tw'o at a time, in order that 
the whites might be thus entrapped. 

Finally a few who yet led on were overtaken and the settlers 
dismounting rushed upon them, killing two of their number. In 
the meantime the Indians in the rear came up, captured the horses 
and opened a deadly fire on the whites, during which Mason 
received a mortal wound. His companions ran into the woods 
and thus escaped. Trammel objected to this hasty retreat and 
desertion of Mason, but his comrades insisted that it was useless 
to continue the fight, as the contest was unequal. After traveling 



some distance they met Josiah Hoskins^ who was known in the 
settlement as a soldier braver than Julius Caesar, and also a better 
rifleman. Led now by Trammel and Hoskins, the party started 
again in pursuit of the Indians, and coming up with them the 
fight was renewed, this time from behind trees. After three of 
the Indians had been killed, Trammel and Hoskins boldly came 
out into the open determined to put the enemy to flight. No 
sooner had they done so than each received a shot and died 
instantly. The rest of the whites held their ground and kept 
up the fire until both parties were exhausted, and by common 
consent gave up the contest. Each company then went its way, 
leaving its dead on the field. 

During the summer George Espie, Andrew Lucas, Thomas 
Sharp Spencer and a scout by the name of Johnson left the Blufif 
on horseback for a hunting -expedition on Drake's Creek, in Sum- 
ner County. As they crossed the creek their horses stopped to 
drink. A band of Indians who were in ambush along the bank 
opened fire upon the party while they were yet in midstream. 
Lucas was shot through the neck and also wounded' in the mouth. 
He rode to the bank, dismounted, and attempted to return the 
fire, but the blood gushed from his mouth and wet the priming 
in his gun. Seeing that the weapon was thus useless he crawled 
away and hid himself in a bunch of briers. Espie alighted from 
his horse and at the same moment received a shot which broke 
his thigh, but he continued to load and return the fire. Spencer 
and Johnson made a gallant stand in defense of their comrades 
and for a time held the enemy at bay. Finally, however, a bullet 
broke Spencer's right arm and they were obliged to leave the 
wounded men to their fate. Espie was killed and scalped, but the 
savages failed to find Lucas, who escaped and returned to the 





The gloom of despair hung hke a cloud over the settlement at 
the beginning of 1785. Indian foes, incited to action by an un- 
seen influence, were again making frequent excursions into the 
region round about, murdering and maiming as zealously as at 
any time during the previous foui' years. 

The Spanish Government, with headquarters at New Orleans 
and Natchez, had so far failed in its attempts, first to win the 
allegiance of the colony, and second, to destroy it by intrigues 
with the savages. It now threatened to prohibit all navigation of 
the Mississippi River and thereby close the only avenue by which 
the settlers in Tennessee and Kentucky might market their corn 
and tobacco. Such action on the part of Spain must surely lead 
to ultimate disaster. Colonel Robertson was again at the capital 
of North Carolina. Here he was exerting himself in an effort to 
convince the Legislature of the needs of its western settlement in 
order that aid might be extended. About all he could at any time 
secure from that august body was its permission to do certain 
things, provided always that any expense thus incurred should 
be borne by the settlement, and that under no condition should 
any part thereof be paid from the State treasury. 

An appeal to the Federal Government for protection against 
Spanish oppression and savage onslaught was at this time and 
for many years thereafter equally futile. Some excuse for this 
action on the part of the latter may be found in the fact that dur- 
ing most of the period mentioned its foreign representatives were 
attempting to negotiate a treaty with Spain. It therefore feared 
to offend that power by demanding protection for its western 
frontier. Both Congress, and the Legislature of the parent State 


by their acts were continually saying to the struggling colonists 
beyond the mountains : "You have assumed your present posi- 
tion of danger without our leave, therefore shift for yourselves. 
We have enough to do to take care of our colonies east of the 

Moses Brown this year built a fort two and a half miles west 
of Nashville, near Richardson Creek and south of Richland turn- 
pike. Scarcely was it finished when Brown was killed and 
scalped and his family driven back to the Bluff. A hired man 
who lived with William Stuart was murdered at the forks of Mill 
Creek on the farm which was afterwards owned by Judge John 
Haywood, the Tennessee historian. 

During the summer of this year Colonel Robertson, Colonel 
Weakly and Edmund Hickman, the latter a popular man and a 
good surveyor, went down on Piney Creek, in Hickman County, 
for the purpose of entering some tracts of land. They were sur- 
prised by a party of Indians and in the fight, which followed, 
Hickman was killed. Robertson and Weakly made a safe re- 
treat to the Bluff. Late in the fall William Hall arrived at 
Bledsoe's Lick. He was accompanied by his wife and children, 
among the latter being William Hall, Jr., a future Governor of 
the State. Having sold his possessions in Surrey County, North 
Carolina, in 1779, the elder Hall started to Kentucky, but because 
of his inability to get through the wilderness with his family 
at that time, halted at New River, Virginia. There he bought a 
tract of land on which he lived until the present year. Conclud- 
ing now to remove to the Cumberland country he again disposed 
of his property and pursued his journey, reaching Bledsoe's fort 
on November 20. Selecting land a mile north of the Lick he 
built a residence and removed his family thereto about January I. 
This property has since remained in the family and is now owned 
by his great-grandson, Judge William Hall, of Gallatin, 



The year 1785 was marked by the advent of Rev. Thomas 
B. Craighead, a Presbyterian minister, and the first of any de- 
nomination to make his home on the Cumberland. Craighead was 
a graduate of okl Nassau Hall, now Princeton University, a man 
of sound learning^ strong intellect and earnest piety. By the 


presbytery of Orange, in his native State, North Carolina, he was 
ordained to the ministry in 1780. A few years later he removed 
to Kentucky and for a time preached to the Stationers there, but 
again changed his residence, coming to Middle Tennessee. It is 
said that this was done at the solicitation of Colonel Robertson, 


with whom he had become acquainted in North CaroHna. On 
arriving at the Cumberland settlement he at once began his work, 
preaching his first sermon with a stump for a pulpit, and with 
fallen trees as seats for his congregation. Fixing his residence at 
Haysborough, six miles northeast of Nashville, he taught school 
during the week and preached on Sunday. A stone building twen- 
ty-four by thirty feet in size was erected at Nashville, and in this 
for thirty years thereafter he taught and held religious service. 
The decHning years of this pioneer preacher were saddened by a 
trial for heresy, the result of which was his suspension from the 
ministry. This order of suspension, however, was revoked 
before his death. He was a man of strong character, and while 
active in extending the knowledge of the gospel, he was opposed 
to the revival measures which led to the formation of the Cum- 
berland Presbyterian Church. He died at Nashville in 1824. 
Throughout all his trials Gen. Andrew Jackson was his staunch 
admirer and loyal friend. 

During the year 1785 also the first physician to the settlement 
arrived at Nashville in the person of Dr. John Sappington. The 
latter acquired much reputation as a practitioner throughout the 

The first lawyers in the settlement came this year in the per- 
sons of Edward Douglass and Thomas Molloy, who announced 
that they would practice in all the courts of Davidson County. 
A historian of that period says that neither of these gentlemen 
had studied law as a science, but being of sound practical sense, 
and possessed of good business talents, and of the gift of speech, 
they soon had a large clientage. The only law books they pos- 
sessed were the Acts of the North Carolina Legislature in 
pamphlet form. 






This year, despite frequent attacks from the enemy, the popu- 
lation of the settlement was largely increased by immigration from 
beyond the mountains. A new station was established by John 
Morgan, who built a fort in Sumner County at the mouth of 
Dry P^ork Creek, two and a half miles northwest of Col. Anthony 
Bledsoe's Station at Greenfield, and near the present site of 
Rogana. This fort was also in the midst of a beautiful body of 
land, formerly the property of William Baskerville, but now 
owned by Dr. Jesse Johnson. The Indians were again on the 
warpath, however, and the first act in the annual tragedy was 
the murder of Peter Barnett and David Steel by a party of Chero- 
kees on the waters of Blooming Grove Creek, below Clarksville, 
in Montgomery County. Near the same place a few days later 
the Indians captured William Crutcher, and sticking a rusty hunt- 
ing knife into his body, went on their way, leaving him by the 
roadside to die of pain and neglect. When they were gone 
Crutcher crawled to the cabin of a neighboring settler, where he 
was nursed back to life. He continued for man}^ years there- 
after a valued citizen of the settlement. 

In January a band of horse thieves, probably Creeks, who 
having ended a war in Georgia now turned their attention to the 
Cumberland, appeared in the region around B)ledsoe's Lick. Dur- 
ing the night they stole all William Hall's horses, twelve in nuni- 
bcr, from an enclosure near his house. Fearing for the safety 
of his family. Hall now moved back to Bledsoe's fort, where he 
remained until fall, when he again returned to his plantation. 


About the first of February a party, consisting of John Peyton, 
Ephraim and Thomas Peyton, his brothers ; John Frazier, Thomas 
Pugh and Esquire Grant, went hunting and surveying in Smith 
County. They camped on what is now known as Defeated Creek, 
north of Carthage. The weather was cold, the ground being 
covered with snow, and they had built a log fire around which 
they were lounging late at night. About ten o'clock the dogs 
belonging to the party began to bark and run about the camp, 
but the hunters supposed that wild animals were prowling 
around, having been attracted thither by the fresh meat of which 
they had killed a large quantity. John Peyton raised himself on 
his elbow and was in the act of hissing the dogs on when a band 
of about sixty Indians, led by ''Hanging Maw," the Cherokee 
chief, fired a volley in upon the unsuspecting whites as they lay 
stretched around the camp fire. Four of the six were wounded. 
John Peyton's arm was broken in two places. Thomas Peyton 
was shot in the shoulder, Esquire Grant in the thigh, and John 
Frazier through the calf of the leg. Ephraim Peyton escaped a 
shot, but put his ankle out of place in jumping down a blufif on 
the bank of the creek. As he sprang to his feet in the beginning 
of the attack John Peyton threw over the fire a blanket which 
was around him, and in the darkness the party separated an<l 
fled through the lines of the enemy. In so doing 'they left behind 
them their horses, saddles and bridles, surveyor's compass and 
camp outfit, all of which the Indians captured. The entire party 
finally reached Bledsoe's fort in safety, coming in one at a time 
and each reporting that his comrades were killed or captured. 

By the aid of a crooked stick Ephraini Peyton hobbled along 
for a distance of twenty miles, when in what is now Trousdale 
County, near where Hartsville stands, he fortunately slipped and 
fell, knocking his ankle back in place. After this he walked on 
to the fort without further delay. 


The stream on which this ill-fated camp was located took its 
name from the attack. 

A year later Peyton sent Hanging Maw a message request- 
ing him to return the horses and compass he had stolen. In his 
reply declining to do so, the chief is reported to have said : ''You, 
John Peyton, ran away like a coward and left them. As for your 
land stealer, I have broken tliat against a tree." Of course the 
charge of cowardice was unfair, as all the party were trained 
soldiers and men of unsullied bravery. Besides such an accusa- 
tion from such a source was not well taken, for when brought 
face to face with a superior force none was more fleet of foot 
than Hanging Maw. 

John Peyton was the son of Robert and Ann Guffey Peyton 
and was born in Amherst County, Virginia, in 1755. He was 
descended from a prominent family of Virginians whose family 
tree may be traced to the reign of William the Conqueror. At 
the age of nineteen, together with his twin brother, Ephraim, 
he joined the army of the Revolution under Gen. Andrew Lewis. 
Both were in the battle of Point Pleasant, at the mouth of the 
Big Kanawah, in 1774. He came to Middle Tennessee in 1779, 
where he fought with distinction in th? various Indian battles. 
John Peyton was in command of Rock Island Ford, on the Caney 
Fork River, in which battle he displayed great courage and pres- 
ence of mind. His father, Robert Peyton, came to visit his son 
John some years later, at what is now known as "Peytonia Farm," 
in Sumner County, and was the last white man killed by the In- 
dians. This occurred at Bledsoe's Lick, where he had gone to 
look after some cattle. John Peyton, who was by occupation a 
surveyor, married Margaret Hamilton, daughter of Capt. John 
W. Hamilton, of the British army. The latter was of distin- 
guished Scotch lineage and participated in the battle of Fort 
Duquesne under General Braddock. He resigned years after- 



ward and became a citizen of Tennessee, where he, too, engaged 
in the Indian wars. Hi^ son, John W. HamiUon, Jr., was an able 
lawyer and jurist and was a contemporary of Jackson, Grundy, 
Houston and other legal lights. 

John and Margaret Hamilton Peyton reared a large family, 


among them being Bailie and Joseph Peyton, both of whom be- 
came members of Congress from the district of wdiich Sumner 
County was a part. As previously related, Ephraim Peyton 
was one of the party that accompanied James Robertson across 
the mountains from Watauga to the Cumberland, 


The tragic death of Col. John Donelson during- the fall of 
1786 ended a useful and honorable career. A short time before 
the occurrence of this unfortunate event his family, together with 
that of his son, John Donelson, Jr., had returned from Kentucky, 
again taking up their residence at Mansker's Station. At the 
time of this removal the Colonel was away on business in Vir- 
ginia. His affairs being finally arranged there he journeyed back 
toward Davis' Station, in Kentucky, traveling the well-known 
route through Cumberland Gap. At Davis' he learned that his 
family had already returned to the Cumberland, and after a few 
days rest he started South to join them. 

On the morning of his departure two young men at the 
station asked permission to accompany him on the journey, say- 
ing that they^ too, were bound for the Southern settlement. Two 
days later these young men appeared alone at the gate of the 
fort at Mansker's and made a statement in substance as follows : 
On the- morning of their departure from the Kentucky station 
they had traveled with Colonel Donelson until the heat of the 
day. Coming at that time to a spring by the roadside they 
stopped for a drink. Colonel Donelson did not tarry with them, 
but rode on, saying that he was anxious to reach home.- He 
had not gone far when they heard several shots. Their impres- 
sion at the time was that his sons had met him on the way 
and were firing a salute. After some delay at the spring they 
had resumed their journey and at length overtook him, severely 
wounded and in great agony, but still riding along the road. Their 
supposition now was that he had been shot by Indians. They had 
camped together at sundown on the north bank of Barren River, 
and during the night Colonel Donelson died. On the following 
morning they had buried his body beside the stream, and taking 
his horse, saddle and saddle-bags, started toward Nashville, but 
in crossing the river the saddle-bags had washed off and floated 


On receipt of this intelligence the sons of Colonel Donelson 
took one of the young men with them and returned at once 
to the designated ford on Barren River in search of their father's 
remains and for evidence in confirmation of the above story of 
his death. They found the body and surroundings very much 
as their informants had described. The saddle-bags above men- 
tioned had contained many valuable papers, and it was believed 
a large amount of money also. Some distance down stream from 
where the crossing was alleged to have taken place the saddle- 
bags and some of the papers w^re found, but the money was 

The young mefi were placed under arrested charged with the 
murder of Colonel Donelson, but no further evidence of their 
guilt being discovered, they were subsequently released. Thus 
to this day the death of Colonel John Donelson remains shrouded 
in mystery. 

By an act of the North Carolina Legislature the county of 
Sumner was established in November, 1786. It was so named in 
honor of General Jethro Sumner, a brave officer of the North 
Carolina line throughout the war of the Revolution, and com- 
prised a scope of country north of the Cumberland River. The 
first county court thereof was held on the second Monday in 
April, 1787, in the house of John Hamilton. At this time the fol- 
lowing citizens qualified as Magistrates : Gen. Daniel Smith, 
Maj. David Wilson, Maj. George Winchester, Isaac Lindsey, 
William Hall, John Hardin and Joseph Keykendall. David 
Shelby was elected clerk of the court, an office which he held 
during the remainder of his life. John Hardin, Jr., became the 
first sheriff of the county and Isaac Lindsey the first ranger. 

Soon thereafter Col. Edward Douglass and Col. Isaac Bled- 
soe were added to the court. This first legislative body of the 
county was composed of men possessed of splendid character and 


ability, who, by the old writers, are accredited with having ruled 
both wisely and well. 

Col. Edward Douglass was a prominent figure in the afifairs 
of the early settlement. He was a native of North Carolina and 
held a Major's commission in the Colonial army during the war 
of the Revolution. He is described as having been a prudent 
military officer, and in the early years of his residence in Sumner 
County gained great renown as an Indian fighter. In the latter 
years of his life he was a successful practitioner and business 
man. From himself and his brother are descended a long line 
of honored citizens of Sumner County. 


Events of i/8/. 


RAID ON morgan's FORT. 

By reason of the westward flowing tide of immigration the 
settlement this year continued to increase in population. How- 
ever, there was but little extension of its boundaries except in 
the region around Red River. As a whole the year was indeed 
one of bloodshed and disaster. 

The population of Davidson County had previously increased 
to the extent that it was entitled to an additional representative 
in the State Legislature. Thereupon Col. Isaac Bledsoe was 
elected to that position, and together he and Colonel Robertson 
had traveled to and fro across the mountains between the settle- 
ment and the State Capital. But this year Bledsoe, being now 
a citizen of the new county of Sumner, David Hays was elected 
in his stead. The latter was related by marriage to the family of 


Colonel Donelson, and as previously stated, had founded Fort 
Union, afterwards known as Haysborough. He was a man of supe- 
rior talents and withal a conspicuous figure among the pioneers. 
The first official act of Robertson and Hays this year was the 
presentation of a memorial to the Legislature. In this they set 
forth the sufferings of their constituents by reason of the bar- 
barous attacks of the Creeks and Cherokees. They also detailed 
the part played by the Spanish Government in inciting such hos- 
tility. This recital closed with a petition that North Carolina 
follow the example of other States by ceding its western territory 
to the Federal Government. These far-sighted frontiersmen 
foresaw the ultimate organization of a new State west of the 
mountains, and the above action was the beginning of a move- 
ment looking toward such an end. 

Sumner County now became the storm center of savage fury. 
A man by the name of Price and his wife were killed on the 
town creek just south of Gallatin. Judge Haywood, in recording 
this incident, says that the Indians also "chopped the children." 

John Beard was murdered with a tomahawk and scalped near 
the headwaters of Big Station Camp. At Bledsoe's Lick, James 
Hall, son of Maj. William Hall, was killed on June 3, near his 
father's residence. He and his brother, William Hall, Jr., after- 
wards Governor Hall, were going from the barn through the 
woods to a neighboring field after some horses. A party of 
fifteen Indians were in ambush beside the path ; ten of them behind 
a log heap, and the others further on in the top of a fallen tree. 
The first party allowed the boys to pass their hiding place, when 
with rifle in one hand and battle axe in the other, they rushed 
upon James^ who was some distance behind his brother, and lay- 
ing hold of him struck a tomahawk deep into each side of his 
forehead. William, terrified at the sight, fled down the path, but 
soon encountered the party in the treetop, who now came run- 


ning- toward him. When one of them raised an axe to strike, 
the little fellow, as if by sudden forethought, turned aside and 
ran into the cane. The Indians followed, but he outwitted them, 
and by dodging from place to place reached his father's home 
unharmed. The latter would probably have been burned and the 
occupants murdered had it not been that just as the boy ran up 
there arrived a company of young people who were coming to 
spend the day with the family. The young men of the party, 
all of whom were armed, went at once in search of the Indians, 
l)ut the latter had already made good their escape, taking with 
them the scalp of their victim. News of the attack was sent to 
Bledsoe's Fort, and five men therefrom, led by Maj. James Lynn, 
started at once in pursuit. It was found that the Indians had 
taken the bufifalo trace leading from Bledsoe's to what was known 
as Dickson's Lick, in the upper country. The settlers did not take 
this trail lest they might be led into ambush. They traveled 
another which ran parallel and formed a juncture with the first 
at a crossing on Goose Creek, in Trousdale County. Just at this 
ford they came upon the fleeing savages, upon whom they opened 
fire, wounding tw^o of their number. The culprits escaped, but in 
doing so threw aside their guns, tomahawks and baggage, all of 
which were captured and brought back to the fort. Tied to 
one of the packs was found the scalp which had just been taken. 
Alaj. William Hall was at this time absent from home, hav- 
ing been summoned to Nashville by Colonel Robertson to attend 
a council the latter was holding with Little Owl and other Chero- 
kee chiefs. A few weeks before this a raid had l^een made upon 
Morgan's Station, at the mouth of Dry Fork, and a number of 
horses stolen. The Indians who committed the theft made a 
circuit through the knobs, expecting to recross the Cumberland 
at Dixon Springs and thus escape to the Cherokee nation. How- 
ever, their movements were betrayed by the sound of a bell worn 



by one of the horses. Suddenly pouncing upon them in the hills | 
above Hartsville the Stationers killed one of their number and 
recovered the stolen property. It was believed that the murder 
of young Hall was in revenge for this pursuit and subsequent 
attack by the Morgan party. When Major Hall returned from the 
council at Nashville and learned what had happened he consulted 


with his neighbors, Messrs. Gibson and Harrison, as to whether 
they should stay out until crops were laid by or remove at once 
to the fort. It was decided to brave the danger for the time 
being, but that each household should employ two spies or scouts 
who should stand guard during the remainder of the summer. 


No alarm was occasioned until August 2. On that day the 
scouts reported that a party of thirty Indians were skulking about 
the neighborhood. Early next morning the Hall family began 
moving to Bledsoe's fort. The household goods were conveyed 
thither on a sled. Mrs. Hall and the smaller children remained 
at the farmhouse to assist in packing and loading. The eldest 
daughter went to the fort to set up the furniture and arrange 
for the reception of the family. Three loads had been brought 
during the day. With the fourth and last load late in the after- 
noon came Major Hall, his wife, three sons and a daughter. With 
them also were Major Hall's son-in-law, Charles Morgan, and a 
man by the name of Hickerson. When about halfway between 
the house and the fort they were attacked by a party of Indians, 
who were in ambush for a hundred yards or more on either side 
of the road. Uttering a warwhoop the savages spang up and 
poured into the settlers a deadly fire. Richard, the eldest son, 
who was in advance of the rest, received a fatal shot and fell 
in the woods a short distance away. Hickerson, who was next 
in line, bravely stood his ground, but his gun missed fire. Re- 
ceiving six rifle shots almost at one time, he sank to the earth, 
mortally wounded. The horse on which Mrs. Hall was riding 
now became frightened, and dashing through the lines of the 
enemy, carried her in safety to the fort. William Hall, Jr., who 
was driving the sled, dropped the lines and ran back to his little 
brother, and sister. Prudence, that, if possible, he might save 
them from capture. Major Hall ordered them to scatter in the 
woods while he and Morgan covered their retreat. All three of 
the children reached the Station unharmed. Major Hall and Mor- 
gan, now left alone face to face with the enemy, made a gallant 
defense, returning the fire with telling effect. Finally, however, 
Morgan, finding himself severely wounded, ran into the woods 
and thus escaped. Major Hall fell in the road, his body pierced 


by thirteen bullets. The Indians scalped him^ and taking his 
rifle and shot pouchy disappeared in the forest. Maj. Hall's 
untimely death was a loss greatly deplored by his fellow settlers. 
Other outrages were committed during the summer and fall. 
John Pervine was killed two miles northeast of Gallatin on the 
farm formerly owned by Dr. Donnel. Early in the fall John Allen 
was surprised and shot through the body a short distance north 
of Bledsoe's, but escaped and recovered. Mark Robertson, 
brother of Col. James Robertson, was captured in a cane thicket 
on Richland Creek and brutally cut to pieces with tomahawks 
and knives. From the broken cane and blood on the surround- 
ing shrubbery it was evident that he had contended long and 
fiercely with the savages before being finally overcome. 

Soon after the events above mentioned, the father of Esquire 
John Morgan was killed just outside the stockade at Morgan's 
fort. Two companies gathered from the stations in Sumner 
County, started in pursuit of the murderers. One of these was 
under command of Maj. George Winchester and the other was 
led by Capt. Wm. Martin. There seems to have been no definite 
understanding as to the route to be followed, and while searching 
through the cane in the Bledsoe Creek bottom the parties suddenly 
approached each other. One of Winchester's men, thinking he 
had come upon the Indians, fired into Martin's party, killing 
William Ridley, son of George Ridley, late of Davidson County. 
Saddened by this unfortunate accident the troops abandoned the 
search and returned to their respective stations. 

During the winter of this year Charles Morgan, who a few 
months before was wounded while defending the family of his 
father-in-law. Major Hall, together with Jordan Gibson, was 
mortally wounded and scalped a few hundred yards from the 
Hall residence while they were on their way to Greenfield Station. 
Morgan lived for several days, and before he died stated to the 


attendants that the IncHan who scalped him had a harehp. It is 
beHeved this was a celebrated chief called *'Moon," who was killed 
on Caney Fork two years later by Capt. James McCann. The 
latter was at the time a member of an expedition led into the 
upper country by Gen. James Winchester. The Indian killed by 
McCann was harelipped and was said to have been at that time 
the only member of his race among the Southern tribes who 
bore such a mark. 


Events of 178'j — Continued. 


At some time previous to the year 1786 a band of outlaw 
Indians, composed of Creeks, Cherokees and Chickamaugas, 
moved down the Tennessee River to the Muscle Shoals, and going 
thence south a few miles, established a town near the present 
site of Tuscumbia, Ala. This village was called Cold Watei^ 
because of its close proximity to a large spring which to this day 
flows out from under a bluff of limestone rock, and from which 
they secured a water supply. Soon after their arrival there came 
hither ten French traders and a woman, the reputed wife of one 
of the latter, down from Kaskaskia, Illinois, and joining the In- 
dians, founded a post for the sale and exchange of goods and furs. 
The location of this village was for a time kept secret. However, 
the settlers soon noticed that in chasing certain bands of ma- 
rauders, who now made frequent inroads upon the settlement, the 
latter always fled to the southwest. This caused the whites to 
suspect the fidelity of the Chickasaws, with whom they had long 
been at peace. At length two Chickasaw warriors, one of whom 
was named Toka, were hunting in the region now comprising 


northern Alabama. Late one afternoon they came upon this hid- 
den town, which was called Cold Water, and there being received 
in a friendly manner by the inhabitants, decided to spend the 
night. During this visit the villagers confided to Toka and his 
companion the fact that their object in selecting this location was 
that they might more easily plunder and harass the Cumberland 
settlers. Early next morning the Chickasaws took their leave 
and returning in great haste to their villages near the present 
site of Memphis, related to Piomingo, the chief, the things they 
had seen and heard. Piomingo sent them at once to Nashville 
in order that they might impart this information to Colonel Rob- 
ertson. The latter lost no time in raising a company for an expe- 
dition against this band of thieves and murderers, who had so 
long preyed upon the settlement, A force of one hundred and 
twenty picked men, well armed and equipped, were soon ready 
to march. It was also deemed expedient to send a few boats 
down the Cumberland and up the Tennessee for the purpose of 
co-operating with the land force. It was agreed that the latter 
should carry an extra supply of provisions, and that in an emer- 
gency it might be used to convey the troops across the river. 
Accordingly a large boat bearing the name 'Tiragua," and two 
canoes were rigged up, and under command of David Hay and 
Moses Shelby, brother of Col. Isaac Shelby, began their voyage. 
Beside the officers mentioned there were aboard a crew of 
eighteen men, among whom were Hugh Rogan, Josiah Renfroe, 
Edward Hogan and John Top. They were instructed to proceed 
as far as Colbert's Landing. If the horsemen should have trouble 
in crossing elsewhere they were to march down to this place and 
ferry over. After seeing the boats off, the land force, guided by 
two friendly Chickasaws, who had volunteered their services, and 
under command of Colonel Robertson and Lieut. Cols. Robert 
Hays and James Ford, began the journey toward the South. The 


route traversed was as follows : By the mouth of Little Harpeth 
River, west to the mouth of TurnbuU's Creek in Cheatham Coun- 
ty, thence up same to its source in the southern portion of Dickson 
County. From there they journeyed on^ henceforth in a southerly 
direction, through Hickman County to Lick Creek of Duck River, 
thence by the head of Swan Creek, in Lewis County, to the source 
of Blue Water Creek, in Lawrence County. They followed this 
stream to where it empties into the Tennessee, a mile and a half 
above the lower end of Muscle Shoals. 

This journey consumed several days, but finally when within 
hearing of the Shoals they went into camp for a day while th^ 
scouts went forward to reconnoiter. At dawn on the following 
morning the company cautiously approached the river and crossed 
over, some in a boat which was tied to the shore and others swim- 
ming across on their horses. After making a brief stop on the 
south bank for breakfast, and to dry their clothes, they mounted 
again and, striking a swift gallop, rushed down upon the village, 
some six or eight miles below. After a ride of forty minutes a 
halt was called for consultation. 

The village was located on a rise a few hundred yards to the 
west of Cold Water Creek. A sharp decline ran therefrom down 
to the edge of the stream. The attacking party now crossed at a 
ford some distance above, and from there proceeded in two de- 
tachments. Colonel Robertson, with the larger part of the force, 
went around to the rear of the village, while Capt. John Rains, 
with a few chosen men, crept along the bank of the creek to the 
ford, there to intercept the fugitives who might rush down to 
escape in canoes. The larger force now having reached its van- 
tage ground, a charge was ordered. However, the Indians had 
discovered their presence and were already in flight toward the 
ford. There they were met by Rains and his men, who shot and 
killed twenty-six of them as they tried to embark in the boats. 



The rest of the savages fled hastily in every direction without 
firing a shot, leaving all their guns, ammunition and other pos- 
sessions behind. Three of the Frenchmen and the woman who 
came with them were killed. The remainder of their party, 
together with several Indians, were captured. 

After sacking the village, the settlers applied the torch, burn- 
ing every cabin to the ground, and by the smoldering ruins 
camped for the night. On the following morning they began 
the return journey. The captives and the booty were placed in 
canoes and started down the river in charge of Jonathan Denton, 
Benjamin Drake and John and Moses Eskridge. At an appointed 
place they met the land force which had moved down the west 
bank of the river. Here they released the prisoners with instruc- 
tions to hurry back up the river. This, of course, the latter lost 
no time m doing. After the troops had been ferried over, the 
party in canoes proceeded by river with the captured goods to 
Nashville. The Indian guides were also dismissed at this point. 
In reward for faithful service they were presented with a horse 
each and a part of the booty, with all of which they returned 
much pleased to Piomingo's village. The land force began its 
homeward march, reaching the settlement in due time without the 
loss of a single man. 

But the fleet under command of Hay and Shelby was less for- 
tunate. After leaving Nashville it had proceeded without event 
to the mouth of Duck River, in Humphreys County. Here Shelby 
discovered an empty canoe tied to the shore within the mouth of 
the stream. His curiosity thus excited, he concluded to investi- 
gate. Heading his boat that way he rowed over alongside the 
strange craft. No sooner was this done than the Indian occu- 
pants of the canoe, who, when they discovered the approach of 
the boat, had hid themselves in the cane, opened upon the whites 
a deadly fire. Josiah Renfroe was killed outright and Hugh 
Rogan, Edward Hogan and John Top were severely wounded. 


It was with difficulty that Shelby now removed his boat out 
to midstream, where a council was held with the other members 
of his party, the latter not having followed him into the trap. 
There it was decided to abandon the voyage and return at once 
to Nashville in order that medical aid might be secured for the 

The fearless and successful raid above detailed, which is 
known in history as the Cold Water Expedition, cowed the sav- 
ages for a few weeks, but soon they began anew their bloody 
carnage, slaying and torturing without regard for age or sex. 

One band of Indian warriors, led by a chief called Big Foot, 
was pursued from the settlement by a company under command 
of Captain Shannon. With him were Luke Anderson, Jacob Cas- 
tleman, the noted scout, and William Pillow, uncle of Gen. Gideon 
J. Pillow, the latter of more recent fame. On the bank of the 
Tennessee River the Indians were overtaken while in the act of 
crossing and thus making their escape into West Tennessee. Cap- 
tain Shannon and his party rushed down upon them, and being 
about equal in numbers, a hand to hand conflict ensued. Castle- 
man and Pillow each killed an Indian and then turned to the 
aid of their less fortunate comrades. Down near the water An- 
derson was engaged in a desperate struggle with Big Foot, who 
was much the larger of the two. Just as Anderson's gun wa^ 
wrested from his hand and he was being hurled to the ground, 
Pillow sprang upon Big Foot and split open his head with a 
tomahaw^k. His braves, seeing the death of their chief, now fled 
in dismay, leaving all their stolen goods behind. 

Soon thereafter Randal Gentry was surprised and killed near 
the Bluff fort. Curtis Williams^ Thomas Fletcher and the latter's 
son met a like fate while exploring near the TIarpcth River in 
Cheatham County. 

This year a branch road was cut out from Bledsoe's Lick 


across to the main highway which had previously been opened 
from Nashville to the foot of Clinch Mountain, in East Ten- 
nessee. At the point where the branch road crossed the Cum- 
berland River there was established a new station called Fort 
Blount. Because of this highway many of the new emigrants 
now turned aside and sought the rich lands of Sumner County, 
thus in a short time making it more populous than its sister county 
on the south. During this year also a census of Middle Tennessee 
was ordered and carefuly taken. By this it was found that 
there were within its bounds four hundred and seventy-seven 
males, or fighting men, over twenty-one years of age. The 
negroes, male and female, over twelve and under sixty years, 
numbered one hundred and five. 

The tax list for the year 1787 shows a hundred and sixty- 
five thousand acres of land at that time under legal ownership in 
Middle Tennessee, nearly one-fifth of which was assessed to Col. 
James Robertson. The latter, however, at this time was acting 
in the capacity of agent for many non-resident owners, and it is 
probable that much of the above belonged to his clients. 

The record of this assessment also shows that at this time in 
Nashville there were only twenty-six town lots on which taxes 
were paid. 

While the colony was being so greatly harrassed by the Indians 
in 1787, the parent State legislated in behalf of her dependants on 
the Cumberland, thereby ordering to their aid a battalion of men. 
It was commanded by Major Evans, a brave soldier, and was 
called ''Evans' Battalion." These troops were to receive for their 
services four hundred acres of land each, the officers thereof 
being granted a greater amount in proportion. One company 
was led by Capt. William Martin, afterwards Colonel Martin, 
who died in Smith County. Another was under command of 
Capt. Joshua Hadley, who died many years ago in Sumner 


County. This battalion remained in the settlement about two 
years and rendered good service in guarding the various forts 
and in pursuing the enemy when the latter had committed mur- 
ders or stolen horses. The Legislature, however, as was its 
custom in pursuance of such acts of generosity, provided that 
these soldiers should be sheltered, clothed and fed by the people 
whom they were sent to guard. At the October term of the 
Davidson County Courts ^7^1 ^ a tax was levied for their support. 
The resolution authorizing same was as follows : "Resolved, 
That for the better furnishing of the troops now coming into the 
county under command of Major Evans, with provisions, etc., 
that one-fourth of the tax of this county be paid in corn, two- 
fourths in beef, pork, bear meat and venison ; one-eighth in 
salt, and an eighth in money, to defray expenses of removing 
provisions." In fixing the rate at which the above provisions 
should be valued, it was provided that beef should be reckoned 
at five dollars per hundred ; pork, eight dollars per hundred ; 
"good bear meat without bones," eight dollars per hundred ; veni- 
son, ten shillings per hundred, and salt at sixteen dollars per 
bushel. The "Superintendent" was directed to call for such a part 
of the aforesaid tax as the commanding officer of the troops might 
direct. If any person or persons failed to deliver his or their 
quota or quotas, at the time and place directed, the said Super- 
intendent should give notice thereof to the sheriff of the county 
who was directed to "distrain immediately." 


Events of 1/88. 





This year was made memorable by the death of many brave 
men, a loss which in its present crisis the settlement could ill 

One day in the month of March the enemy crept up to the 
sugar camp near the Robertson residence, west of Nashville, 
where Peyton, son of Colonel Robertson, John Johnson and their 
playmates were making maple sugar. Seeing that the Indians 
were between them and the house the boys scattered in the woods, 
but young Robertson was killed. Johnson was captured and car- 
ried away to the nation, where for several years he remained a 
prisoner. The rest of the sugar-makers escaped. 

During the month of April the three sons of William Mont- 
gomery, John, Robert and Thomas, were killed near their 
father's house, on Drake's Creek, three miles below Shackle Island. 
John, the eldest boy, had suffered a broken thigh at the hands 
of the Indians a year before and was still on crutches. On this 
occasion he had hobbled out into the orchard where his brothers 
were trimming apple trees. The Indians rushed out from a 
n-eighboring thicket and ruthlessly murdered and scalped the 
three, leaving their bodies in a heap on a brush pile. Shortly 
after the events above detailed an attack was made on a colony 
in Neely's Bend. Mrs. Neely, widow of William Neely, who had 
been murdered at the salt kilns near the same place a few years 
before, was mortally wounded. At the same time Robert Ed- 
monson received a shot which broke his arm, but he ran and lost 


his pursuers in the cane. Robert James was killed near where 
Major Wilson settled^ two miles east of Gallatin. Jesse Maxey 
was wounded while traveling along the road near Asher's Sta- 
tion. Seeing that escape by flight was impossible, he fell face 
downward on the ground. His pursuers came up, scalped him, 
thrust a hunting knife into his body and left him to die. He 
was found by his friends, carried into the fort and nursed back 
to life. 

The 20th day of July, 1788, witnessed an attack on Bledsoe's 
Station, followed by the consequent tragic death of Col. Anthony 
Bledsoe next day. 

This fort was built in the form of an oblong square. Except 
at an opening on the front side, in which was built a large double 
cabin, it was completely enclosed by a stockade. Between the two 
rooms of the double cabin was an entrance into the enclosure. 
Because of impending danger during the spring Col. Anthony 
Bledsoe had abandoned his own station at Greenfield, and with 
his family and associates had sought safety in the fort of his 
brother Isaac, which was regarded as more secure. The two 
brothers, together with their respective families, occupied each 
a room of the double cabin. 

The Indians, as was their custom, chose a beautiful night 
for the attack. From out the depths of a cloudless sky a full 
moon flooded the landscape with its glorious light. No signs of 
danger having recently appeared, there were but few men within 
the fort. These had gathered into the quarters of Col. Anthony 
Bledsoe and until a late hour were making merry with story 
and song. The Indians from afar had spied out the situation 
during the day. Now, while all within were happy in their 
supposed security, the savages were creeping up to the fort, 
secreting themselves around the stockade and awaiting an oppor- 
tune moment for the onslaught. George Hamilton, who at that 


time was conducting at the Lick the first school taught in Sum- 
ner County, was singing for the entertainment of the company. 
The Indians, opening the attack, poked a gun through a hole in 
the back of the fireplace and shot Hamilton in the mouth. Just 
at this juncture, doubtless by pre-arrangement, several of the 
attacking party galloped down the road in front of the cabin. 
Alarmed by the shot and noise, Col. Anthony Bledsoe and his 
Irish servant, Campbell, rushed out into the moonlit passway and 
received each a mortal wound. These shots came from Indians 
who were concealed in the fence corners on the opposite side 
of the road. 

With a whoop the savages now sprang as if by magic from 
their hiding places and began a vigorous assault in an eflfort to 
reach the inside. With their tomahawks they chopped through 
the window shutters of one of the cabins. Hugh Rogan was 
waiting for them on the inside and fired into their ranks the con- 
tents of a heavily loaded musket. Frightened by this shot they 
ran from that part of the stockade, and going around to the 
other side, made an assault on the cabin of Wm. Donahoe. Through 
the cracks they fired a number of shots at the occupants, but 
killed only a large dog which lay stretched out on the floor. 
Donahoe blew out the light, leaving the room in darkness. At 
length, finding their efforts to enter the stockade futile, the 
Indians withdrew. 

Colonel Bledsoe, though dangerously wounded, was yet alive. 
In the absence of a will providing otherwise, the law of North 
Carolina, which governed the settlement, allowed the sons to 
inherit all the real property of the deceased parent. In view of 
this fact, Mrs. Isaac Bledsoe suggested that before her brother- 
in-law died he should make provision from his estate for his 
seven daughters. James Clendening wrote the will, to which 
the dying man affixed his signature while supported by his 



brother Isaac. Thus all his children were allowed to share 
equally his large landed estate. This will was afterwards con- 
tested in the courts, but was finally declared valid by the Supreme 
Court of the United States. It is known to the legal fraternity 
as the 'Tolly Weatherhead Case," and is reported in nth Howard, 
page 329, U. S. Supreme Court Reports. 

At sunrise next morning Colonel Bledsoe died, and on the 
following day was buried south of the fort on the hill where 
Bledsoe's Academy now stands. Col. Isaac Bledsoe was subse- 
quently buried by his side. 

Colonel Bledsoe's death was the occasion of profound sorrow 
throughout the settlement, and came as a crushing blow to his 
life-long friend and comrade, Colonel Robertson, who had so 
recently, in like manner, been bereft of his own son, Peyton 
Robertson, whose death is recorded in this chapter. 

Campbell, Colonel Bledsoe's servant, died as a result of his 
wounds on the second morning after the attack. In August a 
man named Waters was fishing on Bledsoe's Creek below Crag- 
font. The enemy stole up from behind^ shot and scalped him, 
and with their hatchets mutilated his body. 

During the month of October the two Messrs. Durham and 
a companion named Astill were killed at Belle Meade. Dun- 
ham's Station was then abandoned, the occupants returning a 
second time to the Blufif. Brown and Mayfield established each 
a station on Mill Creek, in Davidson County, about a mile apart. 
While at work on the buildings Mayfield, his two sons and a man 
by the name of Jocelyn, laid aside their guns and ammunition, 
leaving a soldier on guard. While the latter was off duty a 
band of Creeks, who had been in hiding, crept in between the 
guns and the station. Mayfield, one of his sons and the guard 
were killed. The other son, George, was captured and carried 
away, remaining for ten years thereafter a prisoner in the heart 


of the Creek nation. Jocelyn ran for his Hfe and evaded his 
pursuers. In after years he became a Colonel in the local militia. 
This station also was now abandoned, the survivors faking refuge 
with Capt. John Rains, the latter in the meantime having re- 
occupied his station at Waverly Place. 

A week later a like assault was made on Brown's fort. In 
the course of this attack James Haggard, a settler by the name of 
Adams, two sons of Mr. Stovall and a young son each of Messrs. 
Brown and Denton were killed. This fort was likewise broken up, 
the occupants going to Rains' Station. 

During the year Capt. John Carr and others built a fort on top 
of the ridge in the western portion of Sumner County, It was 
called the Ridge, or Hamilton's Station. This was located six 
miles north of Shackle Island and near what is now known as 
Cummings' Gap. 

In November, 1788, Davidson County was again sub-divided, 
the northwestern portion having been organized by act of the 
Legislature into Tennessee County. This embraced the territory 
now included in Montgomery and Robertson Counties. Later, as 
we shall see, this name was surrendered to become that of the 
great State of which these counties are now a part. 

On the roster of the many Revolutionary heroes of North 
Carolina appears the name of Col. James Brown. Active in be- 
half of his country during the early years of the struggle for 
American independence, he later served as guide to the troops 
of Generals Washington and Lee at the battle of Guilford's 
Courthouse, on March 15, 1781. For this service he received 
certificates entitling him to large tracts of land in Middle Ten- 
nessee, some of which were in the valley of the Cumberland and 
others on Duck River, in Maury County. In the spring of 1788 
Colonel Brown decided to journey toward the land of his new 
possessions. There lay before him three routes thither. The first 


of these was the well-beaten highway through Cumberland Gap, 
the second that new road but recently opened from Clinch Moun- 
tain to Nashville by way of Knoxville and Crab Orchard, the 
third the Abater route followed by Colonel Donelson's flotilla in 
the \vinter of 1779- 1780, 

He chose the latter, and with his family, consisting of his 
wife, four sons and three daughters, set sail from Long Island, 
East Tennesee, on May 4. With them also were a party of 
young men consisting of John Flood, John Gentry, William Gen- 
try, J. Bays and John Griffin, together with a number of slaves. 
Fearing trouble with the Indians, Colonel Brown had fortified the 
boat in which the party was to embark by placing oak planks two 
inches thick all around above its gunwales. Through these at 
suitable distances apart were port-holes and in the stern was 
mounted a small swivel. About daybreak on the morning of 
May 9 they passed the first of the Chickamauga towns near Chat- 
tanooga. The occupants of the latter sent scouts down the river 
to notify the inhabitants of Running Water and Nickajack of 
their approach. When the whites reached the latter towns an 
hour later they were met in midstream by about forty savages 
in canoes. These bore in front of them white flags, indicating 
that their mission was one of peace. Guns and tomahawks in 
abundance, however, were carefuly concealed in the bottoms of 
their craft. His suspicions having been aroused, Colonel Brown 
warned them not to come near, and turning his boat about leveled 
at them the swivel. Just at this juncture John Vann, a half- 
breed who spoke English, begged Brown not to shoot, insisting 
that his companions Intended no harm, but desired only to trade 
for such wares and trinkets as the voyagers might have aboard. 
During this parley, however, the savages were gradually advanc- 
ing, and when at length their canoes had surrounded Brown's 
boat, they clambered up over its sides and rapidly pushed it 


ashore. Guns and tomahawks now came from their hiding places 
and flashed on every side. The occupants of the boat were seized 
and a most treacherous massacre began. One big Indian, drawing 
a fine sword which had doubtless been captured in sorne mur- 
derous expedition, with one stroke beheaded Colonel Brown and 
threw his body into the river. Two of the older sons, James, 
Jr., and John, and three of the young men of the party were 
killed and their bodies mutilated. Mrs. Brown and one daughter 
were taken captive and driven on foot two hundred miles south 
into the Creek nation, where for seventeen months they were 
kept in a most degraded bondage. During the long journey 
thither they were not allowed to remove the gravel which from 
time to time fell into their shoes, thus causing them most excru- 
ciating pain. Two of the younger daughters, Jane, aged ten, and 
Polly, aged five, were spirited away into the Cherokee nation and 
there held captive for a year. The youngest of the children, 
a boy, was detained for five years among the Creeks. When 
released he had forgotten the language of his parents and spoke 
only in the Indian tongue. 

Another son, who afterwards became Capt. Joseph Brown, of 
Maury county, was held captive for a year at Running Water. 
While there he was the slave of an Indian by the name of Tom 
Tunbridge, who was afterwards killed during an attack on Buch- 
anan's Station, in 1792. The negro slaves with the Brown party 
were carried to the upper towns and there, by way of reward, 
became the property of those Indians who had first given notice 
of the approach of the whites. 

Through the efiforts of Col. John Sevier — "Old Chuckey Jack," 
as he was called by the Indians — the surviving members of the 
Brown family were in the course of time exchanged for Indian 
prisoners, and returned to their former home in North Carolina. 
They afterwards removed to the Cumberland and settled on the 


east side of the tiver three miles below Nashville. Justice fol- 
lowed the perpetrators of this dastardly outrage with a leaden 
heel, but as we shall see later they were finally overtaken and 
Capt. Joseph Brown was largely instrumental in bringing it about. 


Events of lySp. 


By the settlers the year 1789 was regarded as one of com- 
parative peace. Colonel Putnam, in his historical account of this 
period, boasts of the fact that during the year only thirty persons 
were killed^ a few scalped and wounded and one-half of Ihe horses 
stolen. It is estimated that from the establishment of the settle- 
ment up to this time about one thousand horses had been captured 
and carried away. General Robertson and his brother Elijah had 
lost ninety-three, and their immediate neighbors seventy-five. 
North Carolina was now divided into four Congressional districts. 
Three of these were within the original boundaries of that State, 
while the fourth was known as the Washington District, and com- 
prised the whole of the territory now included in Tennessee. In 
March an election was held in the Washington District for the 
purpose of choosing a representative to Congress. Col. John Se- 
vier, of Watauga, was the only candidate, and by unanimous vote 
became the first in Tennessee to hold that office. 

On January 20 the Indians killed Captain Hunter and wounded 
Hugh F. Bell in front of Johnson's Station, near Nashville. A 
party of whites overtook them after an hour's ride, whereupon 


the savages turned upon their pursuers, shot Major Kirkpatrick 
and wounded John Foster and WilHam Brown. 

Hugh Webb and Henry Ramsey, the latter one of Colonel 
Robertson's trusted scouts, were returning from Kentucky, where 
they had gone for a supply of ammunition and salt. While follow- 
ing the trail between Morgan's Station and Greenfield, in Sum- 
ner County, they were waylaid and shot through and through. In 
February John Helin was at work a short distance from Johna- 
than Robertson's station, six miles below Nashville. A band of 


horse thieves came by, shot Helin, stole a drove of horses from 
a neighboring field and hurried off south toward the Creek 
nation. A party known as Captain Murry's company gave chase. 
In this company among others were Thomas Cox, Robert Evans, 
Jacob Castleman, Luke Anderson and William Pillow. It will 
be remembered that Castleman, Anderson and Pillow were with 
Captain Shannon on the expedition to the Tennessee River during 
which the chief Big Foot was killed. They crossed Duck River, 
in Maury County, five miles below Columbia. Continuing their 


pursuit day and night they overtook the Indians on the bank 
of the Tennessee in North Alabama. The savages, thinking 
themselves beyond danger, were taken unawares, having been 
betrayed by the smoke from their camp fires. 

While yet undiscovered, Captain Murry and his men w^ere 
able to completely surround them, leaving the river as their only 
avenue of escape. The scouts stationed on the hillside above 
opened fire, killing one of their number, whereupon, finding their 
flight hedged about on every side, some of them jumped into the 
river. The latter were shot by some of the troops, who, sus- 
pecting this movement, had taken position within range. Several 
of the savages made an effort to conceal themselves along the 
bank, but were found out and killed. The entire band, consisting 
of eleven warriors, was destroyed. There were with them several 
squaws, who were taken prisoners but later released. 

During the month of June Colonel Robertson, with a squad 
of hands, was at work in a field half a mile from his house. A 
watchman had been stationed in the edge of the woods to keep a 
lookout for the enemy. About 1 1 o'clock in the forenoon he 
heard suspicious noises in a thicket nearby and gave the alarm. 
Colonel Robertson started toward the fence, but before reaching 
it was shot through the foot. Other shots were fired, but none 
took effect. 

An order was issued for immediate pursuit of the foe. Realiz- 
ing that because of his wound he was unable to lead the qhase, 
Colonel Robertson is said to have exclaimed, ''Oh, if I only had 
Old Captain Rains and Billie here !" meaning Capt. John Rains 
and Colonel Robertson's brother, William Robertson, both of 
whom were temporarily absent from the settlement. 

The sixty men who volunteered to go were placed under 
command of Lieut. -Col. Elijah Robertson. Andrew Jackson, then 
a young lawyer recently emigrated from North Carolina to the 


Cumberland settlement, was one of the party. At the last moment 
Lieutenant Robertson was detained and command of the expedi- 
tion fell to the lot of Sampson Williams. Meeting at the resi- 
dence of Colonel Robertson early next morning the march was 
begun. They followed the trail of the enemy through Mc- 
Cutcheon's trace up West Harpeth to the highlands along Duck 
River. Here they discovered that they were losing ground and 
concluded that so large a force could not overtake the retreating 
foe. Accordingly Captain Williams selected twenty of the bravest 
men — among them Andrew Jackson — and with these pushed for- 
ward as rapidly as possible. At length, because of the rugged 
condition of the country across which the trace led, the horses 
were left in charge of two of the men and the rest proceeded 
on foot. They followed up the river all the afternoon and 
at sundown crossed with the trail and came down on the other 
side until the darkness and thick cane forced them into camp 
for the night. On the march again by the coming dawn 
they were soon surpised to find that they had halted the night 
before just over a narrow ridge from where the Indians were 
camped. The Indians were about thirty in number. When 
the pursuing party came in sight some of them were astir 
perparing the morning meal, while others lay stretched upon 
the ground asleep. Captain Williams ordered a charge, and 
though yet at least fifty or sixty yards away the troops opened 
fire upon the camp, killing one and wounding six. The 
Indians were taken completely by surprise, and carrying with 
them the wounded, fled in all haste across the river without re- 
turning a shot. In their flight they left in camp sixteen guns, 
nineteen shot pouches and all their baggage, consisting of blan- 
kets, moccasins, bearskins and camp utensils. The whites did 
not pursue them further, but gathering up the booty, returned 
to their horses and thence back to Nashville. 


The success of this raid was marred to some extent by rea- 
son of the haste of Captain Williams and his men in firing upon 
the enemy at long range. A few more moments of quiet ap- 
proach would have made the shots doubly effective. But what- 
ever may be said of the failure of this raid, it at least gave to 
Andrew Jackson an inspiration in Indian fighting which served 
his country to good purpose at a later period. Ever after this 
pursuit Jackson and Captain Williams were fast friends, and in 
the years of association which followed spent many leisure hours 
together recounting their experiences on the occasion of the 
events above mentioned. 

Late in the fall Gen. James Winchester was out with a scout- 
ing party on Smith's Fork, in DeKalb County. A fresh trail of 
the enemy was discovered and pursuit was made along a buffalo 
path down the creek. The Indians discovered that they were 
being followed, and accordingly selected their battleground. The 
path along which pursuit was being made led through an open 
forest to a crossing of the stream. Immediately on the other 
side of this stream was a heavy canebrake. Joseph Muckelrath 
and John Hickerson, General Winchester's spies, were a little 
way in advance of the pursuing party. Just as they crossed the 
ford and entered the cane the Indians, who were lying in ambush, 
fired upon them, killing Hickerson. Meckelrath escaped injury. 
General Winchester and his men, hearing the shots, hurried on 
to the rescue of their comrades. In the battle which ensued 
Frank Heany was wounded. The Indians, having much the ad- 
vantage in position, Winchester thought best to retreat, hoping 
thereby to draw them out of the cane. However, his strategy 
did not succeed, as the enemy refused to follow. There were in 
the pursuing party two Dutchmen bv the name of Harpool — 
both brave soldiers. John, the elder brother, was a man of un- 
usual intelligence and prudence, but Martin, the younger of the 



two, was possessed of a temperament which may very properly 
be described as foolhardy. Just at this stage of the contest the 
Indians were hidden in the cane under a second bank of the 
stream. From this position they kept up an incessant fire at the 
Harpools on the banks above, though the latter were unable to 


locate them. Finally John told his brother to go down and drive 
the "rascals" up while he killed them. Acting on this suggestion 
Martin raised a loud whoop and went bounding down through 
the cane toward the savages, making as much noise as a regi- 
ment. Terrified by this demonstration the Indians sought safety 


in flight, leaving to the whites a clear field. They afterwards re- 
proached the settlers for having what they termed a ''fool war- 
rior" on this expedition. Ever thereafter Martin Harpool was 
known in the settlement as the "fool warrior." It was in this 
skirmish that Capt. James McCann killed "Moon," the hare- 
lipped Indian chief who is believed to have wounded and scalped 
Charles Morgan near Bledsoe's Lick two years before. 

In the settlement of Middle Tennessee Gen. James Winchester, 
who was a native of Maryland, rendered most excellent service. 
A Captain in the Revolutionary army, he shared for more than 
five years its struggles and privations. At the close of the war he 
came to the Cumberland country and settled on Bledsoe's Creek, 
in what is now the First Civil District of Sumner County. Here 
in 1801-2 he built on a cliff overlooking Bledsoe's Creek his fine 
old residence, Cragfont, which still stands. It is now the prop- 
erty of Mr. W. H. B. Satterwhite, a prominent farmer and stock- 
raiser of Sumner County. Cragfont was built of native sand- 
stone by skillful workmen brought for that purpose from Balti- 
more, It is yet in good state of preservation. 

The military services of General Winchester were invaluable 
to the early settlers, directing the scouts and spies and frequently 
pursuing the Indians in person, showing himself at all times a 
true and prudent officer. He was a member of the advisory 
council during the session of the Territorial Legislature in 1794 
and later ,>a member of the State Senate. In the war of 1812 
between the United States and England he received a General's 
commission and was ordered to take command of one wing of 
the army of the northwest. At the unfortunate battle of the 
River Raisin he was taken prisoner by the British and carried 
to Quebec, where he remained in captivity during the following 

At the close of the war of 1812, General Winchester returned 


to the quiet walks of private life, and in all his later dealings, as 
merchant and farmer, enjoyed the utmost respect and confidence 
of his fellow men. He reared a large and worthy family, one of 
whom, George W. Winchester, afterwards represented Sumner 
County in the State Legislature. He was father-in-law to the 
late Col. Alfred R. Wynne, whose daughters, the Misses Wynne, 
still reside in the house built by their father at Castalian Springs 
in the early part of the last century. 

General Winchester died and was buried at Cragfont in 1826. 
There his remains now rest in the family burying-ground. 


Events of ly^o. 




Following the example of other States, North Carolina this 
year ceded its western territory, comprising the State of Ten- 
nessee, to the United States Government. The act of the Legis- 
lature making such a cession was passed February 25, 1790, and 
was formally accepted by Congress April 2 following. Thus the 
region embracing the Watauga and Cumberland settlements be- 
came a territory, separate and apart from the parent State. 

Soon thereafter President Washington appointed William 
Blount, of Watauga, Governor of the new territory; Gen. Daniel 
Smith, of Sumner County, Secretary, and David Campbell and 
John McNairy Judges of the ''Superior Court of Equity." Judge 
Joseph Anderson was added to this court in 1791. 

There were already organized within the bounds of Ten- 


nessee at that time seven counties, to wit : Washington, Sullivan, 
Green and Hawkins, grouped around Watauga ; and Davidson, 
Sumner and Tennessee, along the Cumberland. These counties 
were now divided into two judicial districts, the first named group 
being known as Washington District and the latter constituting 
Mero District. The designation, Mero, was thus adopted from 
a name previously applied to this section in 1788, and was in 
honor of Don Estevan Miro, a newly appointed Governor of 


Spanish possessions on the south. By courting the good graces 
of the latter Colonel Robertson and others in authority hoped to 
establish friendly relations with Spain and thereby bring about a 
cessation of Indian hostilities, which they believed to have been 
secretly incited by Spanish influence. 

However, this desire on the part of the settlers was not imme- 
diately realized. 

Col. John Sevier was appointed Brigadier-General for Wash- 
ington District, and Col. James Robertson was commissioned to 


a like position in the district of Mero, which comprised the whole 
of Middle Tennessee. 

Soon thereafter the reorganization of the militia was com- 
pleted by the following appointments : Robert Hays, Lieutenant- 
Colonel; Edwin Hickman, First Major, and George Winchester, 
Second Major. 

The instructions from the War Department of the Federal 
Government to these, and all other officers of the South, was that 
they should treat the Spanish with politeness and ''act only on the 
defensive toward the Indians for fear of offending the Spaniards 
who had unjustifiably taken them under their protection." 

Among those citizens appointed by the Governor to official 
positions in the three counties of Mero District were Col. James 
Robertson, Charles Robertson, Stockley Donelson^ John Rains, 
Andrew Ewing, Isaac Bledsoe, Kasper Mansker, Luke Lea and 
others equally as well known in early history. 

During his administration as Governor of this territory Wil- 
liam Blount held also another office, the title of which was 
''United States Superintendent of Indian Affairs." His Secre- 
taries were Hugh Lawson White, Willie Blount and Richard 

White afterwards became a Judge of the Supreme Court of 
Tennessee, President pro tcm of the United States Senate, and 
later candidate for President of the United States. Willie Blount 
served as Governor of Tennessee from 1809 to 1815. Both White 
and the last named Blount lie buried in the old graveyard ad- 
joining the First Presbyterian Church at Knoxville. 

In the spring of 1791, Andrew Jackson, having previously 
been admitted to the bar, was appointed Attorney General of 
Mero District. 

As compared with previous periods of its existence the year 
1790 was one of peace for the settlement, though a number of 


murders were committed. Henry Howdyshall and Samuel Farr 
lost their lives while fishing on the Cumberland River near Cairo, 
in Sumner County. 

Benjamin Williams had settled on a tract of land about two 
and a half miles north of Gallatin, near the present site of Love's 
Chapel. The tract was formerly owned by James House, Sr. 
Beside it ran a trail which has since become the Dobbins turn- 

A party of Indians came in the night and, making a deadly 
assault upon the sleeping household, killed Williams, his wife 
and children and two of his slaves. One negro boy, Philip, ran 
up the chimney and, thus hiding himself, escaped. 

At this time Samuel Wilson was living a mile and a half 
northwest of Gallatin on what is still known as the Wilson place. 
Not having heard of the above attack he was out on the trail 
next morning looking for his horse over in the neighborhood of 
the Williams residence. Hearing someone riding toward him he 
hid behind a tree. Soon an Indian appeared on horseback. 

Wilson, who was a fine marksman, had with him his trusted 
rifle, and taking aim, fired. At the crack of the gun the unwary 
savage tumbled from his horse and journey on to the liappy 
hunting ground, Wilson then shouted at the top of his voice, 
"Surround them, boys; surround them!" and ran toward home. 
The Indians who were following supposed a company of whites 
were upon them, and turning fled, going westward toward Sta- 
tion Camp Creek. A few days later John Edwards was killed 
near Salem Church, on the Douglass turnpike, probably by the 
same murderous band. 

In midsummer Alexander Neely and his two sons, James and 
Charles, were killed a mile north of Bledsoe's Lick. They were 
going to haul tanbark from Neely's farm, near the fort. 

During the same season Benjamin and Robert Desha, sons 


of Robert Desha, Sr., were killed four miles northwest of Bled- 
soe's, on the creek which bears their name. Their graves may 
yet be seen under some tall trees near the site of Saunders' fort, on 
the farm of Robert Green. 

Henry Ramsey was shot from ambush near where Rural Acad- 
emy afterwards stood. He was passing from Greenfield to Bled- 
soe's. His companion, a man named Hicks, was wounded. 

Soon thereafter William Ramsey came from his home on 
White's Creek, in Davidson County, to look after the settling of 
his brother Henry's estate. On the homeward journey both he 
and his horse were killed by the enemy lying in wait on the 
north side of the lane which led down from Bledsoe's fort to 
Bledsoe's Creek. 





During the year 1791 there was but little hostility on the part 
of the Indians — a calm before the coming storm. 

Toward the whites they showed even some degree of friendli- 
ness, bringing occasionally to the settlement venison and furs, 
which they gave in exchange for powder and lead, blankets, 
calico, tomahawks and beads. 

In explanation of this it may be said that for some time past 
an especial effort had been put forth by President Washington, 
Governor Blount, General Robertson and others in authority to 
bring all Indian wars to a close. 

Alexander McGillivray, Chief of the Creeks, and a queer 


combination of Indian craftiness and Spanish treachery, had 
been invited to New York, then the seat of government, for 
the purpose of negotiating a treaty of peace. 

On this mission he was accompanied by twenty-eight of his 
head chiefs and principal warriors. All "arrived, painted and 
plumed, with silver bands on their arms and rings in their noses, 
with blankets and breech-clouts, moccasins and leggins, and 
tinkling ornaments." It is said by the writers of that time that 
they were indeed the cynosure of every eye. 

During a stay of several weeks they were wined, dined and 
otherwise feted by the Knickerbockers, all of which they received 
with a characteristic grunt, which might have meant much or 
little of appreciation. 

The result of this festivity was a treaty with the Creek nation 
which restored to them a large tract of wilderness land pre- 
viously held by them, but subsequently claimed by the whites. 
By a private article of the treaty, the terms of which were 
kept secret from the other warriors, McGillivray received from 
the Government the sum of a hundred thousand dollars. This 
amount had been demanded by the chief in return for an alleged 
destruction of personal property by the colonial militia. 

Following the return of McGillivray and his band from New 
Yoik, Governor Blount had made a visit to all parts of the 
territory, including the Cumberland settlement, holding talks 
with the members of the various tribes, assuring them of friend- 
ship and urging upon them a proposal of peace. 

The Chickasaws on the west, with Piomingo the mountain 
leader at their head, had long been the friends of the whites. 
By reason of the recently ratified treaty of New York it was 
hoped that the Creeks would henceforth bear them the same 
relation. But there remained yet something to be done in order 
that they might bring to terms the Chcrokces, the warlike moun- 
taineers on the south and east. 


Early in the year, through the medium of friendly members 
of the tribe, Governor Blount made known to the Cherokee 
chiefs, Hanging Maw and Little Turkey, his desire for a peace 
talk. These chiefs were the leaders respectively of the northern 
and southern factions of their tribe. The place of meeting pro- 
posed by Governor Blount was White's Fort, the location of which 
was the present site of Knoxville. Straightway certain Indian 
traders and other opponents of peace — those who profited by the 
arts of war — set going a movement to defeat this conference. 
They secretly hinted to the credulous savages that it was a scheme 
on the part of the whites to assemble the warriors of the nation 
on the banks of the Tennessee, that the latter might be treacher- 
ously fallen upon and slain. 

Governor Blount, believing the traders to be responsible for 
this wilfully false report, revoked their license and ordered them 
from the nation. This action only aided the cause of the oppo- 
sition party, who now asserted that the traders were being driven 
out because of their friendship for the Indians. To overcome 
the evil influence of these mischief-makers it was deemed neces- 
sary to send an official representative of the Territory to the 
Cherokee nation. 

General James Robertson, because of his well known tact and 
long experience in dealing with the Indians, was the only person 
considered for this important but delicate mission. 

On receipt of his commission from Governor Blount he began 
at once a journey on horseback from Nashville to Chota, the capi- 
tal and beloved city of the Cherokees. This village was beauti- 
fully nestled among the foothills of the Chilhowee Mountains in 
Monroe County, east of Madisonville. Near this spot, according 
to popular belief, DeSoto and his army had camped many years 
before. Among the Cherokees Chota was a city of refuge, prob- 
ably the only one of its kind upon the continent. When once 


within its sacred precincts the offender, regardless of the mag- 
nitude of the crime, was free from all punishment or personal 
vengeance, so long as he remained therein. It is related that here 
an English trader, in more modern times, took refuge and found 
safety after having slain in cold blood a Cherokee warrior. Re- 
maining in the village for some time he desired to return to his 
post nearby, but was warned that he would certainly perish if 
he attempted to escape. 

General Robertson was heartily received by Hanging Maw, 
Little Turkey and their respective warriors, many of whorh he 
had met on former occasions. After spending some days with 
them he succeeded in allaying their suspicions and in arranging 
for the council at White's Fort, as previously planned. This 
meeting resulted in the "Treaty of Holston," otherwise known 
as Blount's Treaty. It was signed July 2 and ratified by the 
Senate of the United States November 9 following. By its 
terms the Cherokees, in consideration of the delivery of certain 
valuable goods and an annual payment of $1,000, released to the 
whites a large section of the central portion of East Tennessee, 
to which tract the Indians had previously laid claim. There was 
also a tacit understanding that there should be no further attacks 
by the Cherokees on the Cumberland settlement. However, as 
we shall later see, this part of the agreement was soon broken. 
Because of peaceful conditions existent at the beginning of this 
year there was a general expansion of the bounds of the settle- 
ment. A number of new stations were established in Sumner 

In the early spring Maj. James White built a fort three miles 
northeast of Gallatin on a trace which is now the Scottsville turn- 
pike. The traditional site of this fort is near a big spring in the 
front lot of the property formerly owned by the late John T. 
Carter, but now owned by Erskine Turner. 


Colonel Saunders built a fort on the west side of Desha's 
Creek two and a half miles east of White's Station. It was 
located in the northeast corner of the farm now owned by Robert 
Green, and near the residence of Alex. Simmons. Capt. Joseph 
Wilson located three miles southeast of Gallatin on a tract of 
land formerly owned by the heirs of Darnell, but now by Thomas 
Reed. This was called the Walnutfield Station. 

During this year also Jacob Zigler built a fort a mile and a 
half north of Cairo on the western branch of Bledsoe Creek, in 
what is now the Second Civil District of Sumner County. The 
site of this station was formerly the property of James Charlton. 
It is now owned by the heirs of William McKamie. 

Scarcely had Colonel Saunders completed his fort on Desha's 
Creek and moved his family thereto when the Indians appeared 
and lying in wait, shot and killed his two young sons, who had 
ventured upon the outside. 

S^ron thereafter James Dickinson was killed while passing 
from Saunders to Whites' Station. In the month of June John 
Thompson was surprised and shot while hoeing in his cornfield 
a few miles south of Nashville. Later in the summer a band 
of Creeks killed a Mr. Miller, his wife and four or five children 
over on Rolling Fork of the Cumberland. 

A census of Mero District taken this year shows a population 
of seven thousand and forty-two. One thousand of these were 
males capable of bearing arms. The population of the Indian 
tribes surrounding the Territory at that time is variously esti- 
mated at from twenty-five to fifty thousand. 


Events of 17^2. 





Early in this year, despite all previous efforts to bring about 
peace, the ravages of the Indians broke forth anew. Historians 
very properly attribute this turn in the tide of affairs to the 
credulity of Governor Blount and General Knox, the latter then 
Secretary of War in President Washington's Cabinet. These 
officials allowed themselves to be imposed upon by protests of 
friendship from such treacherous deceivers as Hanging Maw, 
Little Turkey, Bloody Fellow, Breath of Nickajack, John W^atts 
and a host of lesser lights from among the Cherokees, Creeks 
and Chickamaugas. In return for honeyed words and strings of 
beads the chiefs above mentioned demanded and received from 
the officials powder and lead. With the latter supplies they were 
secretly equipping expeditions against the various settlements. At 
the same time Generals Sevier and Robertson were forbidden to 
pursue these marauding bands beyond the boundaries of their 
own land. 

Indeed, the public records of this period clearly indicate that 
General Knox was not in sympathy with the Western settlers. 
He publicly expressed the belief that "the whites were almost 
invariably the aggressors, and the Indians the injured parties." 

Governor Blount knew where to place the responsibility. He 
was also well aware of the trials through which the colonies were 
passing. He believed, however, that the shortest route to peace 



was by the path of kindness and a meek compliance with the 
numerous demands of the enemy. 

Such a poHcy was doubtless well founded in theory, but, as 
the later annals of American history show, was very poor from 
the standpoint of the practical. Too, the Governor's better judg- 
ment and natural inclinations were probably hedged about by 
reason of his official positions, both of which demanded a minute 
compliance with the orders of the Secretary of War. 

On January 2 of this year the Governor wrote a letter to Gen- 
eral Robertson during* the course of which he said: "I have 
heard that the Little Turkey Chief has sent you a very friendly let- 
ter and begs a supply of powder and lead. These things are trifles 
and had better be spared, if they can, than refused." A few days 
later he wrote, "Watts has sent me a peace talk and a string of 
beads. I believe he is in earnest." 

Had General Sevier been Secretary of War and General Rob- 
ertson, or even young Andrew Jackson, Governor of the territory 
during this eventful period the white wings of peace would doubt- 
less have hovered over Watauga and the Cumberland before the 
expiration of twelve months from the organization of the Terri- 
torial Government. Instead, the war was lengthened out over a 
period of five eventful years, during the course of which many 
lives were sacrificed and much valuable property destroyed. 

In the forbearance and long suffering of Sevier and Robertson 
and the brave pioneers who composed their respective colonies, 
there is for all succeeding generations a great lesson of patience. 

The star of Alexander McGillivray, the once powerful Creek 
chief, was now on the wane. The fact of his having received 
a hundred thousand dollars by a private clause in the Treaty of 
New York had become known, and the head men of his nation 
were bent on revenge. There arose In his stead an Individual 
who was much traveled. He had recently visited England and 


other countries beyond the seas and now boldly proclaimed him- 
self ''General Bowles, Director of the affairs of the Creek Na- 
tion." He denounced McGillivray, asserting that the latter had 
been both bribed and cheated at the making of the Treaty of 
New York. 

He also coolly announced that while abroad he had l)een em- 
powered by the British Government to declare void all treaties 
of his nation with the whites and to himself conclude a treaty 
with the Creeks. By the terms of the latter all lands previously 
claimed by them should be restored. Though his statements were 
never taken seriously by the whites, he was the source of much 
of the cruelty which fell to their lot later on. 

In the early spring Bowles sent one of his head men^ Cot-ea- 
toy. on a visit to General Robertson at Nashville. He bore with 
him from Bowles professions of lasting friendship for the set- 
tlers. He was kindly received and entertained, but General Rob- 
ertson was careful to send his son, Jonathan Robertson, around 
with the visitor wherever he went, believing him to be — as in 
reality he was — a spy. 

Soon after this visit John Watts and several other Cherokee 
chiefs arrived on a like pilgrimage at the home of General Rob- 
ertson. When about to depart the polite request was made that 
on the return journey they might be allowed to kill some game 
as they ''passed over the white man's land." 

All these visits were made with sinister motives, and afforded 
the savages the privilege of spying out the strength and position 
of the settlements. 

Expecting a series of attacks, General Robertson now ordered 
an organization of the militia in the three counties of Davidson, 
Sumner and Tennessee. The companies thereof were to be sta- 
tioned at the various forts. A force of five hundred volunteers 
was called for, these to be held in reserve, but subject to the call 


of duty at a moment's notice. Capt. John Rains had under him a 
band of rangers with headquarters at his station in Waverly 
Place. He kept two of these always on guard, and by a blast of 
his horn could call into action his entire force. 

Major Sharp, of Sumner County, was in command of a troop 
of cavalry. This though a Government force, could at all times 
be depended upon to act in concert with the local militia for pur- 
poses of a common defense. All of the above were held in readi- 
ness for an outbreak, which was confidently expected. 

One of the most picturesque characters of the Cumberland 
settlement was Col. Valentine Sevier. Some years previous to 
this period he had removed from East Tennesse and established 
a station at the mouth of Red River, in Montgomery County, 
on the present site of New Providence. He brought with him his 
family, consisting of his wife and five sons. There were also 
in the party his sons-in-law and the families of Messrs. Price 
and Snyder, two relatives by marriage. All of these took up 
residence at the New Providence station. Col. Valentine Sevier 
was a brother of Gen. John Sevier. From early youth he hati 
been a hunter and warrior. Despite his now advancing years 
he was as erect as an Indian, spare of flesh, had a clear skin and 
a bright eye, which was ever on the alert for danger. 

He had served with distinction throughout the war of the 
Revolution as well as in all the Indian wars of his time, having 
obtained his rank at the battle of Pleasant Point in 1774. He is 
reputed to have been remarkably fond of his horse, his wife and 
children, his gun and hounds, glorying yet in the thrill of the 

Hearing of the call for volunteers issued by General Robert- 
son, his friend of former days, Colonel Sevier gave permission to 
his sons, Robert, William and Valentine, Jr., to go at once to 
Nashville and there enlist under the banner of the common weal. 


It was decided that they should make the trip thither by 
canoes. Accordingly, on January l8, 1792, they began the ascent 
of the Cumberland in company with John Price and two ethers 
whose names tradition has not preserved. Reaching a sharp bend 
in the river they were discovered by a skulking band of Indians, 
who crept across the narrow strip of land intervening and hid 
themselves in the bushes at the water's edge on the other side. 
As the boats drew near the savages fired upon the occupants, kill- 
ing the three Seviers and the two unknown men. While the 
enemy reloaded their guns Price hastily turned his canoe about 
and starte 1 down stream. Seeing, however, that he would be 
intercepted, he rowed to the opposite shore, and leaving his 
canoe, made his escape into the woods. After several days of 
wandering he reached the river bank opposite Clarksville. He 
was brought over by the settlers and from thence conveyed to 
Colonel and Mrs. Sevier news of the terrible disaster which had 
befallen his companions. 

After the escape of Price the Indians boarded the canoe, 
scalped the dead and threw their bodies into the river. They then 
went their way, carrying with them all the guns, provisions and 
supplies found in the captured boats. 

The smaller forts in the neighborhood of Clarksville were now 
for a time abandoned, the occupants going for refuge to Sevier's 

Several forts had at this time been established near the present 
location of Springfield, Robertson County. In February or March 
an attack was made .upon these by a party of Creeks. John Tits- 
worth, Thomas Reason and wife and Mrs. Roberts were slain. 
Also the entire family of Col. Isaac Titsworth except himself and 
an older daughter. Colonel Titsworth was absent from home and 
his daughter was carried away captive. The house in which the 
family resided was burned. Miss Titsworth and other captives 


were kept in the Creek camp near the mouth of the Tennessee 
until the first of June. They were then carried south into the 
Creek nation, where Miss Titsworth remained for three years. 
For a long time she was supposed to be dead^ but in the summer 
of 1795 Colonel Titsworth, hearing that she was probably yet 
alive, journeyed through the Creek nation in search of her. 
Finally locating the rendezvous of her captors, he opened nego- 
tiations with them and arranged for her release by an exchange 
of prisoners. In retiring from the attack on the Springfield sta- 
tion the Indians discovering that they were being pursued, toma- 
liawked and scalped three children they were carrying also into 

Among those prominent in afifairs among the early settlers of 
Tennessee County were Thomas Johnson, father of Hon. Cave 
Johnson ; Francis and William Price, the Forts, and others, all 
having in later times a long line of descendants in Montgomery 
and Robertson Counties. Small parties of the enemy were now 
prowling about all parts of the settlement. 

During the morning of May 24 General Robertson and his 
son Jonathan were sitting on their horses at the spring near 
his house. They were fired upon from behind a clump of bushes 
and thick cane, the General receiving a shot in the arm which 
caused him to drop his gun. In attempting to recover it he fell 
from his horse, which became frightened and ran off toward 
the house. Two of the savages were rushing toward him with 
raised tomahawks when Jonathan, though himself severely 
wounded in the hip, fired a well-directed shot, which pierced 
them both and thus covered the retreat of himself and his father. 
The ball which struck General Robertson passed the length of his 
arm from the wrist to the elbow, shattering one of the bones. 
I le was, on this account, disabled for several months. 

Failing in the above attack the Indians continued about the 


neighborhood for several days, during which they killed a boy 
within sight of the Robertson residence and a little girl near the 
Bluff fort. 

On the night of June 26, a force of several hundred Creeks, 
Cherokees and Chickamaugas made an assault on Ziglers' fort, in 
Sumner County. 

During the morning preceding some of their advance guard 
had killed Michael Shaffer while he was hoeing in a field adjoin- 
ing the station. When the neighbors who had collected went out 
to bring the body into the fort, the Indians fired upon them from 
ambush, wounding Joel Eccles and Gabriel Black. The latter 
was a brother-in-law of Gen. James Winchester. 

The men were thus forced to leave the body of Shaffer and flee 
for safety into the fort. The enemy kept up the fire for some 
time, but finally dispersed. About sundown the occupants of the 
fort again ventured out and brought the dead body into the en- 

The alarm having been given, people for several miles around, 
including the occupants of the Walnutfield station, came into the 
fort to spend the night. These numbered in all probably thirty 

For some unknown reason they all retired at an early hour, 
leaving no sentinels on guard. 

About 10 o'clock the attacking party stole out from the neigh- 
boring thickets, surrounded the fort, broke down the doors of 
the cabins, and fell in merciless assault upon the sleeping set- 
tlers. The latter thus awakened^ fought as best they could, but 
were able to make but poor defense against such overwhelming 
numbers. At length the savages fired the fort, thus forcing the 
inmates to face the tomahawk in an effort to escape the flames. 

Jacob Zigler, founder of the fort, ran up into the loft of his 
cabin and was burned to death. 


Archie Wilson, a fine young fellow, who had volunteered 
his services to defend the fort that night, fought bravely, but 
finally, when wounded and retreating, was brought to bay and 
clubbed to death. His body was found next morning about a 
hundred yards from the station. Beside these, three other persons 
were killed, one of them a negro girl. Four were wounded, 
among them being Capt. Joseph Wilson. The wife and six chil- 
dren of Capt. Wil.'ron, two children of Jacob Zigler, and nine other 
persons were taken prisoners and spirited away into captivity. 

Mrs. Zigler escaped with one child by thrusting her hand- 
kerchief into its mouth, thus preventing the noise of its crying as 
she fled through the darkness. The destruction of the station was 

General White, of East Tennessee, hearing that his sister, 
Mrs. Wilson, and five of her children, had been carried into the 
Cherokee nation, sent a messenger to the chief and had them 
released by purchase. One of the Wilson children, a daughter, 
was captured by the Creeks and for many years remained among 
them a slave. After returning from captivity she long retained 
the manners and customs of her captors. On the morning after 
the destruction of the fort a party under command of General 
Winchester and Col. Edward Douglass went in pursuit of the 
Indians. Capt. John Carr, John Harpool and Peter Loony were 
sent forward as spies. They took the trail of the retreating 
party and followed them across Cumberland River. From thence 
they proceeded up Barton's Creek to within about three miles of 
where Lebanon now stands. Here they came upon twenty-one 
packs of the plunder from the station, all of which had been 
nicely tied up and hung on trees. The packs were carefully pro- 
tected from the weather by strips of peeled bark which had been 
placed over each. Having but few horses, the Indians had thus 
disposed of a part of their luggage until a part of them could 


go back and steal horses enough to bring it forward. In the 
meantime the main body was hurrying on with the prisoners. 

The pursuing party having now come up with their advance 
guard, some of them were sent back home with the captured 
phmder, and also that they might warn the settlers to be on the 
lookout for the horse thieves. The rest hastened on after the 
retreating enemy. At the big spring now on the public square 
at Lebanon they stopped to rest and drink. There Captain Carr 
and others cut their names on a cedar tree which stood by the 
spring for many years thereafter. Again on the chase the party 
came to a small stream of water which ran across the trail. On 
the banks of this they saw barefoot tracks of the children who 
had been captured. A little further on they found the smolder- 
ing embers of a fire from which the Indians had lighted their 
pipes and around this were scattered scraps of dressed skins, 
from which it was supposed they had made moccasins for the 
children, the feet of the latter having become sore from hard trav- 
eling. This was confirmed when later on they saw in the mud the 
little moccasined footprints. This is at least one instance of 
savage kindness to those who were so unfortunate as to fall 
into their hands. 

The whites camped that night at Martin's spring near the 
subsequent home of Esquire Doak. Next morning they came to 
the place where the Indians had camped the first night out. As 
the latter were already a day and a half ahead. General Win- 
chester advised that the pursuit be abandoned, thinking it prob- 
able that the captives would be killed if the savages should be 

On the journey homeward it was found that the horse-steal- 
ing party had returned in the meantime to the camp on Barton's 
Creek and there discovering the loss of their ])lun'ler had fol- 
lowed on to the big spring. Here they had cut on the surround- 


ing trees signs of various characters in mock imitation of the 
names previously carved by Carr and his companions. 

On her return from captivity Mrs. Wilson related that when 
the advance party of Indians having in charge the captives, came 
to Duck River on the journey south, they halted in waiting for 
the rest of their number, upon whom they relied to bring up the 
captured plunder. When tlie latter arrived empty-handed, there 
was almost a pitched battle. In the fray knives and tomahawks 
were drawn by members of each party against those of the other. 
Mrs. Wilson said she was much alarmed lest in their rage they 
should kill herself and the rest of the captives. 




station. — ji:\iMiE o'connor. 

Late in the summer Lieutenant Snoddy went out with a scout- 
ing party, about thirty in number, on Caney Fork. During the 
afternoon he came upon the rendezvous of a large company of 
Indians. The latter were absent, and the camp was immediately 
plundered. While thus engaged Snoddy observed an Indian with 
a gun on his shoulder slowly sauntering down the hill. Discover- 
ing them the latter took flight, and soon disappeared in a cane- 
brake nearby. 

Snoddy well knew that he would have to fight before he left 
the neighborhood. Accordingly, he crossed the river with his 
men and selected as a place for defense a high eminence on the 
south shore. In the center of this he placed the horses and 
around them posted his troops, thus forming a hollow square. 
Throughout the night they lay in this position, listening to the 


savages, who made the surrounding forest resound with their 
horrible imitations — hooting hke owls, barking like dogs and 
foxes, and screaming like wild cats. 

The frequent neighing of a restless horse betrayed the position 
of the settlers, and at daylight the attack was begun, and con- 
tinued for an hour. Though the attacking force was double that 
of Lieutenant Snoddy he had with him a Spartan band, and the 
enemy were put to route. David Scoby and Nathan Latimer 
were killed. Among the wounded were Andrew Steel and 
Captain William Reid, late of Sumner County. Two or three 
of Snoddy's party in a cowardly manner deserted their comrades 
on the eve of battle. 

The loss to the Indians in killed and wounded was great. 

The capture of Zigler's Station had awakened the settlers 
anew to a sense of danger, and guards were now picketed around 
every fort. 

Governor Blount still gave little encouragement in matters of 
defense. His letters from his home in Knoxville advised patience 
and leniency with the Indians^ who from messages received from 
Watts, Bloody Fellow and others, he believed to be on the eve 
of accepting terms of peace. On September 14, he sent General 
Robertson an order to disband the minute men. In a letter at- 
tached he said : 'T heartily congratulate you and the District of 
Mero upon the hapi)y change of affairs." 

A few days later, however, having received information of 
an alarming nature from the Chickamauga towns, he sent a 
courier post-haste to Nashville with the following message : "The 
danger is imminent, delay not an hour." About this time a half- 
breed by the name of Findleston arrived at the Bluff' and told 
General Robertson that John Watts was assembling a large force 
in the region of Nickajack for the purpose of breaking up the 
settlement. He said, furthermore, that if his statements were not 
true, the whites might put him in jail and hang him. 


The minute men were thereupon again called out, and sent into 
camp at Rain's Spring in Waverly Place, while the Castlemans 
and other scouts of good repute were sent out as spies. The 
latter went down as far as Murfreesboro where at that time an 
Indian called Black Fox and several associate hunters had located 
a camp. They returned with the information that there was not 
an Indian on the course, even the Black Fox camp being deserted. 

Reassured by this report, the force at Rain's Spring was 
marched back to the Bluff and there disbanded. However, an- 
other party of scouts consisting of John Rains, Abraham Ken- 
nedy, and two men by the names of Clayton and Gee were sent 
over the region covered by the Castlemans. It was believed 
that Watts and his band would pass by the Black Fox camp in 
order that they might confer with Black Fox, with whom Watts 
was thought to be secretly in league. 

Rains and Kennedy took one route, while Clayton and Gee 
went by another. When near the present site of Lavergne Clay- 
ton and his companion encountered an approaching force of about 
seven hundred Cherokees, Creeks, Chickamaugas and Shawnees, 
all under command of Watts. 

The scouts were killed. It is said that on the march thither 
Watts kept ahead of his army Indian spies dressed as white men. 
In this way the unfortunate scouts were decoyed within his lines 
where they were surrounded and slain. 

Rains and Kennedy not having discovered the fate of Clayton 
and Gee returned on the third day and reported no signs of dan- 
ger. This information created great satisfaction among most of 
the settlers. Some of these now complained loudly because of 
the alarm which had, as they now declared, been uselessly occa- 

Doubtless Findleston, the half-breed, who furnished the infor- 
mation, now trembled for his head. 


However, despite the failure of the scouts to discover signs of 
danger, the more experienced of the settlers viewed the situation 
with alarm. That veteran woodsman and Indian fighter^ Abra- 
ham Castleman, moulded a new supply of bullets, filled afresh his 
powder horn, cleaned and repolished his faithful rifle, "Betsey," 
picked his flint and ambled off down the trail. When questioned 
as to his destination he replied that he was "going over to Buch- 
anan's to see the enemy." It was supposed that Buchanan's Sta- 
tion would be the first point of attack. 

After killing the scouts, Clayton and Gee, the main body of 
the Indian force lay concealed in the woods for several days, while 
spies were sent forward to reconnoiter. 

On the morning of September 30, the march was resumed to 
a point about a mile below Buchanan's fort. Here the horses 
were left in charge of some of the men. At dusk the main body 
moved noiselessly up to within site of the station. George Fields, 
a half-breed Cherokee, and a member of the party, afterwards 
related that they saw the lights in the hands of the settlers as 
they moved about the stockade, and could hear the neighing of 
the horses and the lowing of the cows. 

While the invaders were thus halted, a dispute arose between 
Watts and Tom Tunbridge, who was in command of one wmg of 
the army. The latter wanted to attack the fort at once. Watts 
insisted on going first to the Bluff and there make an assault on 
that station. He argued that if Buchanan's be attacked now the 
occupants of the Bluff would thus be put on their guard, whereas, 
with the latter out of the way, the smaller fort could be easily 
taken on the return journey. 

It is evident that their success in capturing Zigler's Station 
had made the Indians bold to the belief that on this expedition 
they would be able to destroy the entire settlement. 

The controversy between the chiefs lasted for several hours. 


Finally it was ended by Watts, who told Tiinbridge to go ahead 
and take the fort himself, and that he, Watts, wonld stand aside 
and look on. However, it is a matter of history that the whole 
force was in action before the engagement which followed was 
well under w^ay. 

Within the last few days, in anticipation of trouble, Major 
Buchanan had repaired the stockade and otherwise greatly 
strengthened his fortifications. On the night of the attack he 
had within the enclosure twenty of as brave men as any of whom 
record is made in the annals of early history. Their names are 
as follows : James Bryant, Thomas Wilcox, Jacob and Abraham 
Castleman, James O'Connor, James Mulherrin, Thomas McCrory, 
Morris Shane, William and Robin Kennedy, George Findleston, 
Samuel Blair, Charles Herd, Sampson Williams, Samuel McMur- 
ry, Robin Turnbull, Robin Hood, Thomas Latimer, Robin Thomp- 
son and Joe DuRat. The last named was a half-breed but a friend 
of the whites. 

As on previous occasions of Indian attack a full moon shone 
that night from a clear sky. At the lonely hour of midnight two- 
faithful sentinels in the watch tower over the gate discovered 
the approach of the enemy. When they came within easy range 
two rifle shots rang out and two Indian warriors bit the dust. 
The occupants of the fort were now aroused and both sides 
opened fire. For an hour the battle raged more furiously 
than in any engagement yet known to the settlement. With 
whoops and yells and a fusillade of shots the savages stormed 
the stockade on every side, making repeated efiforts to break 
down the gate and thus enter the enclosure. Through one port- 
hole alone they directed thirty shots to the inside, all of which 
lodged under the roof in a place the size of a hatbrim. 

A few yards from the fort a cellar had been dug over which an 
outhouse was soon to be built. In this some of the Indians took 


refuge, hoping to pick off the men in the fort as occasion should 
be presented. Some sought safety by crouching in the out- 
side corners of the stockade, while others hurled burning brands 
onto the roofs of the cabins and into the enclosure, hoping there- 
by to fire the fort. During all this time they were being met 
by volley after volley from twenty trusty rifles within. When- 
ever an Indian came wathin reach or raised his head he thus 
constituted himself a backstop for a bullet from a neighboring 
porthole. However, there were more portholes than gunners 
to man them, and tlie Major's wife, Mrs. Sallie Buchanan, to- 
gether with other women of the fort, displayed in this emergency 
great bravery. Seizing each a man's hat they dodged about hold- 
ing them from time to time in front of the vacant openings. This 
was called a "showing of hats." It was intended to fool the In- 
dians as to the size of the garrison. At length, impatient at the 
seeming failure of the attack, Tom Tunbridge seized a firebrand 
and mounted the roof of a cabin. No sooner on top than he 
received a fatal shot that sent him tumbling to the ground. In 
liis dying moments he crawled up to the wall and tried to set fire 
to the logs, blowing the flames with his last breath in a des- 
perate effort to burn the stockade. His dead body, scorched by 
the fire he had kindled, wa'^ found next morning beside the fort. 

The Indians were finally repulsed and withdrew in great 

The body of Tunbridge, who is believed to have led the cap- 
lure of Zigler's, and many of those of his followers were left on 
the field. 

\\'atts, desperately wounded, was carried away on a litter. 
Trails of blood leading down the rocky declivity from the fort 
and along the paths through the woods made evident the fact 
that many of the dead and wounded were carried away. 

Around the stockade by the light of the morning were found 


swords, tomahawks, rifles, pipes, kettles and numerous other arti- 
cles of Indian usage. One of the swords was a handsome Spanish 
blade, richly ornamented after the Spanish custom. This had 
doubtless been presented by the Dons to some Indian brave in 
return for a specified number of hapless paleface scalps. 

None of the occupants of the fort were killed or wounded. 

Jimmie O'Connor, one of the defending party in the Buch- 
anan fort, and a gallant son of the Emerald Isle, was somewhat 
addicted to the use of strong drink. It is related that he had re- 
turned from Nashville about an hour before the attack above 
mentioned in a state of rather hilarious jubilation. In the midst 
of the battle Jimmie came up to Major Buchanan and asked 
permission to use an old pistol, the property of the Major's 
mother. This particular implement of warfare, which was usually 
kept loaded and laid away under the old lady's pillow, was a 
funnel-shaped species of the blunderbuss family and was known 
about the fort as "My Grandmammy's Pocket Piece." 

The request was granted and Jimmie, mounting a ladder to 
an upper porthole^ pulled the trigger. Supposing that it had 
fired, he descended from his station and asked that the weapon 
be reloaded. This request was four times repeated and granted. 
All of this was quite a drain on the supply of ammunition, as it 
required several times as much powder as an ordinary rifle. 

On the fifth ascent to the porthole the blunderbuss, which had 
onty snapped before, went off in dead earnest, with a report which 
rivaled that of a six-pounder, and with a kick which hurled poor 
Jimmie to the ground. No sooner landed, however, than 
he was on his feet, and running over to Major Buchanan, ex- 
claimed: '*Be jabbers, but they got one alright, didn't they?" 

Next day a company of a hundred and fifty men, under com- 
mand of General Robertson and Captain Rains, began a pursuit 
of the Indians, who, it was discovered, had retreated in two 


parties. When the whites reached Stewart's Creek they lound 
that the fleeing savages were gaining ground, and therefore aban- 
doned the chase. After this attack there was comparative peace 
in the settlement for a period of several months. 


Ei'cnts of i/pj. 







Throughout its course the year 17Q3 was to the settlement one 
of stirring- events. 

The number of killed or wounded is variously estimated at 
from fifty to seventy-five. 

Almost daily during the summer months marauding parties of 
the enemy recrossed the Tennessee River with scalps and horses 
which had been taken from the Tennessee and Kentucky settle- 
ments. One stands aghast at the awful carnage which was 
wrought. Early in January, on White's Creek^ a man by the 
name of Gower was mortally wounded. Before death overtook 
him he succeeded in making his escape to Hickman's Station. 

On the same day a party of Indians were pursued from Bled- 
soe's Station, where they had stolen the horses on which they 
escaped. In their flight they lost several guns and a quantity of 
plunder, all of which was captured by the whites. 

Hugh Tenin had built a cabin on Red River, west of Clarks- 


ville. On January i6, while he was building a fence around his 
clearing, the savages shot him from ambush, captured his horse 
and fled. 

Indians now thronged the banks of the Cumberland on the 
lookout for boat parties, which they usually attacked while ascend- 
ing the river. The reason for this was twofold: First, because 
the crews were preoccupied with rowing and therefore less vigi- 
lant, and second, because the returning boats were always ladened 
with goods and provisions. 

About the first of January, Major Evan Shelby, in company 
with others, had gone to Louisville, then known as the Falls of 
the Ohio, for a boat load of supplies. On January i8, while re- 
turning with a cargo of salt and other necessities, the boat was 
fired upon from the river bank by a party of Creeks. This was 
in Stewart County at a point opposite the present site of Dover. 
Major Shelby, James Harney and a negro man belonging to 
Moses Shelby were killed. The savages plundered the boat and 
scattered and destroyed what they could not carry away. Then, 
dressed in the clothes of the dead and armed with the captured 
swords and rifles, they marched off in great state. 

Some of this paraphernalia was found among them by Colonel 
Tits worth while searching for his daughter in 1795. Major 
Shelby was a brother of Gov. Isaac Shelby, of Kentucky, and a 
son of Gen. Evan Shelby, of North Carolina. 

Having settled in the Cumberland some years previous, he had 
already filled many positions of honor and trust. His death was 
mourned as a public calamity. 

Two days after the capture of the Shelby party, three boats 
belonging to French traders were fired upon while ascending the 
river. David Crow and a man named Gaskins were killed out- 
right. Wells, Milliken and Priest were wounded. The latter 
died from the effects of a shot in the knee. Milliken recovered, 


but, as a result of the encounter, carried through Hfe five bullets 
in various parts of his body. 

Overall and Burnett were returning from Kentucky, having 
in charge nine packhorses loaded with "goods^ salt and whisky." 
On January 22, at a lonely place in the road, they were pounced 
upon by the enemy and slain. Overall had been a scout. Pre- 
sumingly on this account the savages chopped him with their 
tomahawks, cutting the flesh from his bones. The horses with 
their burdens were captured. 

An event of unusual importance this year was the death of Col. 
Isaac Bledsoe on the morning of April i. Together with several 
negro men he was going from his station to a neighboring clearing 
for the purpose of mending some burning log-heaps. The Indians, 
who were in waiting by the path, directed a deadly fire at Colonel 
Bledsoe, inflicting wounds from which he died almost instantly. 
They then deliberately scalped him and went on their way. The 
settlement was long in mourning on account of Colonel Bledsoe's 
tragic death. As previously recorded, his body was buried beside 
that of his brother, Anthony, on the hill south of his station at 
Bledsoe's Lick. 

In 1908 a fitting monument to the memory of the Bledsoes 
was erected over their graves at Castalian Springs, Sumner Coun- 
ty. It was provided by contributions from descendants of the 
two brothers. Those chief in promoting this enterprise were Col. 
Oscar F. Bledsoe, of Grenada, Miss., and Col. J. G. Cisco, of 

Capt. Sam Hays was killed near the home of John Donelson, 
Jr., west of the Hermitage. 

Thomas Sharp Spencer and Robert Jones, in company with 
Mrs. Nathaniel Parker, formerly Mrs. Anthony Bledsoe, were 
passing on horseback from the Walnutfield Station to Greenfield. 
When about two miles from Gallatin, and near the corner of the 





farm now owned by Harris Brown, they came face to face with 
a party of Indians. The latter opened fire, and Jones fell dead 
from his horse. With raised tomahawks they rushed toward his 
companions, but recognizing Spencer, of whom they stood in 
mortal dread, called a halt. Ordering Mrs. Parker to turn her 
horse and run toward Gallatin, Spencer covered her retreat by 
dashing back and forth in front of the savages, pointing his gun 
as though he intended to shoot. This was kept up until she was 
beyond their reach. Then wheeling his own horse about Spencer 
followed his companion to a place of safety. 

Because of disasters to them usually attended on such occa- 
sions, the Indians had now grown wary of attacking the stations. 
They explained this fear by saying, ''White man keep heap big 
guns and much dogs." However, an attempt to capture Green- 
field is yet to be recorded. 

This fort recently equipped with lookout station and heavy 
stockade was regarded as one of the strongest in the settlement, 
but just at this time was poorly manned. It was situated on a 
lofty eminence, from which site one may look to-day over a land- 
scape of surpassing beauty. There was about the fort a spacious 
clearing and surrounding this on every side was a cane brake 
from twelve to fifteen feet high. 

During the afternoon of April 26, three negro men were plow- 
ing in a field near the fort. One of these was Abraham, formerly 
body- servant to Col. Anthony Bledsoe. They were guarded the 
while by an Irish sentry whose name was Jarvis. 

About two hours before sundown, General William Hall, 
then a young man, went down from the fort to see how the work 
was progressing. While he stood talking to Abraham, the dogs 
which had been lying near where Jarvis was stationed, suddenly 
became excited and rushed toward the canebrake. Feeling sure 
that the Indians were close by, General Hall ordered the men to 
unhitch their horses, and they all returned to the house. 


Shortly after daylight next morning while Mrs. Clendening 
and several of the women were out milking the cows, a drove of 
half-wild cattle came rushing from the woods down the lane 
toward the fort. About the same time Jarvis came by with the 
negro men on their way to the field. Mrs. Clendening begged 
them not to go, saying that she believed the Indians would be 
upon them in a short time, but Jarvis insisted that there was 
no danger. He said they had lost two hours of the previous 
afternoon, and must now go and finish their plowing. While 
Mrs. Clendening went in to arouse the men who were yet asleep 
in the fort, the firing of guns was heard. Jarvis and the negroes, 
their horses abandoned, came running with all speed toward the 
station pursued by several bands of the enemy. General Hall 
sprang out of bed and partially dressing himself, seized his rifle 
and shot pouch and rushed bareheaded from his cabin. Outside 
he was joined by Mr. Wilson, a trusted soldier, who happened 
to be passing, and together they started to the aid of Jarvis 
and his men. Just then another party of about twenty Indians 
who were ambushed along the lane arose and fired a volley at 
Hall and Wilson. The latter jumped the fence and ran toward 
the savages, who, their guns empty, now turned and fled. 

In the meantime Neely and James Hays had come out of the 
fort and were going to the aid of their comrades. Another squad 
of Indians came running through a wheat field and tried to inter- 
cept them. In doing so they came close to Hall and Wilson, but 
when they discovered the latter they fell flat in the wheat. Direct- 
ly one of them wishing to see the lay of the land, poked his head 
above the tall grain. He received a bullet from General Hall's 
rifle, which caused his moccasined heels to describe a semi-circle 
in the air, after which he landed face downward, dead. 

The four white men now ran forward and gave battle to the 
force in pursuit of the field hands, and a fierce conflict ensued. 


Jarvis and one of the negroes called Prince were killed. A shot 
passed through General Hall's hair clipping out a lock, which 
Neely said was thrown a foot into the air. The fire from the 
Indians finally ceased, and the settlers started to the fort. Look- 
ing back they saw Old Abraham, who had killed one antagonist, 
coming on a run for his life with a strapping big Indian after 
him. Seeing that he was loosing ground the Indian stopped and 
began in a deliberate manner to reload his rifle. Hays fired and 
shot him in the arm pit through and through, killing him in- 
stantly. The Indian force numbered about two hundred and 
sixty. In retreating they left four dead on the field, but carried 
away the wounded. The horses belonging to the field hands were 

Soon after they had departed a company of fifty men under 
Mrjor George Winchester, having heard the firing, arrived at 
the fort. A council was held, but it was decided that .])ursuit 
should not be made, as it was thought probable that the savages 
would lie in wait and entrap them. 

A few days later Old Abraham, who was a good soldier and 
marksman, was passing at nightfall from Bledsoe's Lick to Green- 
field. When in the midst of a dense thicket about half way be- 
tween, he came face to face with two well known Cherokee 
chiefs, '^Maddog" and "J^^"'!^ Taylor," the latter a half-breed and 
a noted plunderer. 

Old Abe leveled his gun and fired, killing ''Maddog." He 
then turned about and ran toward the Lick. Taylor carried away 
and buried the body of his comrade. This done he returned to 
his nation, and was never seen again in the settlement. 

About the middle of June, James Steel and his daughter, 
Betsy, a beautiful girl seventeen years old, were killed and 
scalped near Greenfield. In comi)any with Mr. Steel's son, and 
his brother, Robert, they were on their way to Morgan's fort at 
the mouth of Dry Fork. 


When they left Greenfield, General Hall and several other 
members of the Light Horse Scouts, a local organization, offered 
to guard them over, but the elder Steel declined, saying that he 
feared no danger. When scarcely out of sight of the fort the 
firing of guns told of their peril. General Hall and his men 
mounted their horses and galloped down the road to the rescue, 
but the red hand of the Indian had done its bloody work. Steel 
had fallen under the first fire. The daughter, who was riding be- 
hind her father, was knocked ofif the horse, stabbed and scalped. 
She was yet alive when the scouts came up, but died while being 
carried back to the station'. Robert Steel and his nephew made 
their escape. 

The noted scout and hunter, Jacob Castleman, together with 
his relatives, Joseph and Hans Castleman, were killed at their sta- 
tion near Nashville on July i. Abraham Castleman, who had 
long chafed under the restrictions thrown by the War Depart- 
ment around the local militia, could now no longer be restrained. 
General Robertson^ who in this instance, was not hard to per- 
suade, granted him the desired permission to raise a company of 
volunteers for the purpose of retaliation. 

Castleman promptly enlisted a band of fifteen, and- started in 
swift pursuit toward the southeast. When they reached the Ten- 
nessee, beyond which, by order of Secretary Knox, all parties of 
like character were forbidden to go, they had killed no Indians, 
according to Castleman, ''worth naming." Here ten of the com- 
pany turned back. The remainder, consisting of Castleman, 
Frederick Stull, Zackariah Maclin, Jack Camp, Eli Hammond, 
and Zeke Caruthers, determined to visit Caesar in his own house. 
Painting and otherwise disguising themselves as Indians, they 
crossed the river near Nickajack. They had not gone far when 
they came In sight of a band of fifty Creeks at dinner. The lat- 
ter were seated on the ground, two and two, all painted black and 
evidently on their way to war. 


So well disguised were the settlers that they were allowed 
to come quite near, the Indians continuing their meal without 
the least alarm. Suddenly the invac'ers stopped, planted their 
feet, took deliberate aim, and fired. Each killed a man. "Betsy" 
was loaded with buckshot, and Castleman killed two. The In- 
dians surprised and thrown into a panic by so sudden an attack 
fled in all directions, leaving the dead behind. Castleman and 
his dare-devil band crossed the river and returned to Nashville, 
well pleased with the results of their expedition. 

In December, James Robertson, Jr., son of General Robertson, 
and John Grimes were trapping for beaver on Caney Fork. A 
party of Cherokees came by, shot and scalped them, and threw 
their bodies into the river. 

The following Middle Tennessee settlers were now prisoners 
in the various In Han nations : Mrs. Cafifrey and child, Mrs. Wil- 
liams and child, Mrs. Crockett and son, Mrs. Brown and Misses 
Thompson, Wilson, Titsworth and Scarlet, two boys and a little 
girl at Pocantala, a boy twelve years old at Big Tallassee, two 
boys and a girl at Oakfuskee. A lad fifteen years old, a man 
whom the Indians called John, a boy ten years old, and a young 
woman, age unknown ; the latter at various villages among the 
southern tribes. 

Some of these had been in captivity for years. Their only 
tidings of relatives and friends was their occasional recognition 
of bloody scalps and garments exhibited by the warriors on their 
return from murderous expeditions. 


Events of i/()4. 


On the first day of this year Governor Blount issued a proc- 


lamation calling the Territorial Assembly and Legislature to meet 
at Knoxville the fourth Monday in February following. 

This body consisted of thirteen members. The three Middle 
Tennessee counties were represented as follows : General James 
White from Davidson, David Wilson from Sumner, and James 
Ford from Tennessee. Wilson of Sumner was elected Speaker 
of the Assembly, it being insisted by the western delegation that 
as the Governor had been selected from the eastern portion of the 
Territory, therefore their division was entitled to the presiding 
officer of the legislative body. 

Thus was begun a sectional rotation in office, which has since 
become law, both written and unwritten, in the selection of Ten- 
nessee officials. 

By provision of the Congressional Act creating the Territory, 
it became the Assembly's duty to nominate ten persons from 
whom the President of the United States should select five, the 
latter constituting a Legislative Council. From the names pre- 
sented the following were chosen : Col. John Sevier, Gen. James 
Winchester, Stockley Donelson, Griffith Rutherford and Par- 
menas Taylor. 

This first meeting of the Assembly was lengthy in session, the 
same being devoted largely to details of the territorial organiza- 

At its adjournment on September 24, a resolution was adopt- 
ed instructing James White, Esq., at that time territorial repre- 
sentative in Congress, to exhibit to the "President of Congress" 
a list of those who had this year fallen by the hands of the Creeks 
and Cherokees. He was also requested to assure his excellency 
that "if the people of this territory have borne with outrages 
which stretch human patience to its utmost, it has been through 
our veneration for the head of the Federal Government (Wash- 
ington), and through the hopes we entertain that his influence 


will finally extend to procure for this injured part of the Union 
that justice which nothing but retaliation on an unrelenting enemy 
can afford." 

Already, as we shall see presently, but possibly without the 
knowledge of those who framed this resolution, the worm had 
turned, and a swift vengeance wreaked on a part of this ''unrelent- 
ing enemy." 

So great now was the peril from the savages that the Gov- 
ernor was importuned by certain members of the assembly for 
protection on their journey homeward. White. Ford and Speak- 
er Wilson were escorted back to Nashville by an armed guard. 

Throughout the early part of this year Governor Blount con- 
tinued seemingly to have great faith in the councils and negotia- 
tions he was still conducting with the belligerent tribes, and lent 
a listening, if not a trusting ear to all made-to-order "peace talks" 
from the chiefs. On April 15 he wrote General Robertson as 
follows : "An attack on Cumberland by a large party of Indians, 
either Creeks or Cherokees, or both^ is not to be apprehended this 
summer. Small parties, however, I fear will yet infest your 
frontier. I entreat and command you to let neither opportunity 
nor distant appearances of danger induce you to order out any 
party (of the militia) unnecessarily large. Economy is a re- 
publican virtue which from the injunction laid on me (by the Sec- 
retary of War) I feel myself bound to enjoin on you the observ- 
ance of." 

Nevertheless, in the midst of these promises of peace and lec- 
tures on economy, the destruction of human life and loss of prop- 
erty went on apace. 

But the Governor, or some other agency, had at last brought 
the Secretary of War to tlie belief that the people along the Cum- 
berland were exposed to at least some danger which had not been 
brought upon themselves by any misconduct of their own. 


About this time the officials were authorized to raise from the 
mihtia of Mero District one hundred men, allowing twenty-six 
privates for Davidson County, a like number for Tennessee, and 
seventeen for Sumner, besides subaltern officers, sergeants and 
corporals, and a mounted force of thirty men to range through- 
out the district. 

On New Year's day John Drake with three companions went 
from his home near Shackle Island in Sumner County to hide near 
one of the licks in wait for game. They had killed two deer which 
they were busily engaged in skinning when they were espied by a 
band of Indians. After firing a volley the latter rushed upon them 
with uplifted battle axes. In the conflict which followed, so many 
shots were fired that each of the wdiites suspected all his com- 
rades slain. Not a man was wounded, and all escaped to Shackle 
Island. But their rifles and the venison, both of which were 
deeply mourned, fell into the hands of the enemy. 

Miss Deliverance Gray, while passing between the stations 
west of Nashville, was pursued by the enemy who tried to 
effect her capture. She was fired upon and slightly wounded, 
but escaped by flight. John Helen was killed and scalped at a 
point half a mile from General Robertson's residence. He ran a 
long way and when finally overtaken, made a heroic fight for his 
life. He was overpowered by numbers. 

Jonathan Robertson, eldest son of the General, had many a 
conflict with the Redskins. 

One day this spring he had as companions three lads by the 
name of Cowan, aged from ten to fourteen years. They were 
hunting a few miles west of the Robertson plantation. About ten 
o'clock they killed some game and swinging it across their 
shoulders went marching in single file through the woods. Sud- 
denly the rustle of a brush and the gleam of a rifle told them 
that danger was near. One of the boys raised his gun to fire, 


but young Robertson stopped him and ordered the party to seek 
protection behind neighboring trees. Two of the lads sprang be- 
hind a tree each, while Robertson and the other boy sought a 
third. The Indians while yet carefully concealed, fired a shot 
which slightly wounded Robertson's companion. In trying to 
get sight of the enemy that he might take a shot, Robertson ex- 
posed his head and received a bullet through his hat just above the 
left ear. The Indian who made this shot thus exposed his own 
body, and Robertson in turn sent a bullet after him which reached 
its mark, causing the savage to drop his gun. From behind their 
sheltering oaks several Indian heads now protruded, at which 
the youthful hunters each took a shot. In this fusillade another 
Indian was wounded. ]]efore long the savages were running 
like troopers, carrying with them their wounded and leaving Rob- 
ertson and his band in complete possession of the field. In their 
flight they lost a rifle, which was captured. 

A few days later the bodies of two dead Indians, supposed to 
be the wounded in this skirmish, were found a short distance 
from the scene of the conflict. 

Two of the young Bledsoes, one a son of Col. Anthony Bled- 
soe, the other a son of his brother Isaac, both named Anthony, 
had boarded during the winter at Rock Castle, the home of Gen. 
Daniel Smith. While there they attended a school which had 
been established on Drake's Creek near Hendersonville. On the 
afternoon of March 21, while returning to Rock Castle, they 
were killed at a rock quarry in which the Indians were secreted. 
Out of this quarry had been taken the stone from which Rock 
Castle had been built. 

A month later, Thomas, another son of Col. Anthony Bled- 
soe, was surprised and mortally wounded near his deceased fa- 
ther's station at Greenfield. The survivors of this brave family 
of pioneers now felt that surely their cup of bitterness was full. 


On the morning of August 9, Maj. George Winchester was 
killed and scalped at what is now the forks of the Scottsville 
and Hartsville turnpike in the edge of Gallatin. He was on his 
way to attend a meeting of the County Court, of which he was 
a member. 

When the news of Major Winchester's death reached town 
the court was just assembling^ and a large crowd had gathered 
about the court house. Immediately a company of fifty men 
were enrolled under Maj. George D. Blackmore, for the pur- 
pose of pursuing the murderers. The march was begun next 
morning at daybreak^ but the Indians were not overtaken, as they 
were mounted on strong horses recently stolen, and they were a 
day and night in advance of the whites. Goaded to desperation 
by the continued recurrence of such outrages, the settlers now 
determined to break up these marauding expeditions at any sac- 
rifice, and regardless of opposition from all sources, even the Fed- 
eral Government itself. This resolution General Robertson no 
longer hesitated to approve. 

The task to be undertaken was not light, and concert of 
action must be had. 


Events of 1/04 (Continued). 



vSampson Williams, representing the Cumiberland settlement, 
visited Kentucky and laid the proposed plan of action before Col- 
onel Whitley. The latter readily agreed to raise a force and co- 
operate in the invasion. Returning to the settlement Captain 
Williams assisted in organizing the local army of volunteers. 


Col. John Montgomery raised a company near Clarksville ; 
Colonel Ford levied troops in that region now comprised in Rob- 
ertson County; while General Robertson and Maj. George D. 
Blackmore called for recruits in Davidson and Sumner Counties, 

In the meantime Governor Blount had detached Major Ore, 
of East Tennessee, with a command of sixty men to range along 
the Cumberland Mountains, and thus aid in preventing the In- 
dians from crossing into Mero District. However, for some 
reason, a satisfactory explanation of which has not yet found 
its way to the War Department^ this gallant band of patriots did 
not halt on the crest of the mountains. Instead they straightway 
pursued their journey westward, and the appointed day found 
them bivouaced with the volunteers from Kentucky and the Cum- 
berland at the designated place of rendezvous. The latter was 
at Brown's Block House, two miles east of Buchanan's Station. 

As the troops of Major Ore were the only members of the 
combined force levied under government authority, it was agreed 
that Major Ore should command the expedition. Col. Whitley, 
of course, led the Kentucky troops, while Colonel Montgomery 
and Major Blackmore were selected to command the volunteers 
from the Cumberland counties. Prominent among the latter 
were William Trousdale,-: afterwards Governor of Tennessee, 
Hugh Rogan, Stephen Cantrell, William Pillow, Captain Joseph 
Brown, Charles and Beale Bosley and John Davis. 

From the first it had been agreed that the point of attack 
should be Nickajack and Running Water towns. These, as be- 
fore stated, were located along the southeast shore of the Ten- 
nessee River and under the shadow of Lookout Mountain. It 
was an open secret that from these hives issued those pestilential 
swarms of marauders which had so long preyed upon the Cum- 
berland settlement. Flere also the Creek and Cherokee war par- 



ties gathered and crossed the river on their journeys toward the 

Late in August a small party under command of Colonel Rob- 
erts went out with written instructions to "scour the head waters 
of tlie Elk," but with the secret purpose of spying out a route 


for the army to Nickajack and Running Water. This party of 
scouts was accompanied by Joseph Brown, yet a youth, but who 
had been long a captive in these towns after the murderous as- 
sault upon his father's expedition some years previous to this 
date. By the time the troops were ready to move Colonel Rob- 


erts and his company had returned and reported a feasible route 

With young Brown as a guide, the entire army, consisting of 
five hundred and fifty mounted men^ began its march on the morn- 
ing of September 7. 

The following order had previously been issued by General 
Robertson to Major Ore: 

"Nashville, Sept. 6, 1794. 

Major Ore: The object of your command is to defend the 
District of Mero against the Creeks and Cherokees of the lower 
towns, who I have received information are about to invade it, 
as also to punish such Indians as have committed recent depreda- 
tions. For these objects, you will march, with the men under 
your command, from Brown's Block House on the 8th instant, 
and proceed along Taylor's Trace towards the Tennessee; and 
if you do not meet this party before you arrive at the Tennessee, 
you will pass it and destroy the lower Cherokee towns, which 
must serve as a check to the expected invades ; taking care to 
spare women and children, and to treat all prisoners who ma.y 
fall into your hands with humanity, and thereby teach those rav- 
ages to spare the citizens of the United States^ under similar cir 
cumstances. Should you in your march discover the trails of 
Indians returning from commission of recent depredations on the 
frontiers, which can generally be distinguished by the horses 
stolen being shod, you are to give pursuit to such parties, even 
to the towns from whence thev came^ and punish them for their 
aggressions in an exemplary manner to the terror of others from 
the commission of similar ofifenses, provided this can be consist- 
ent with the main object of your command, as above expressed, 
the defense of the District of Mero against the expected party of 
Creeks and Cherokees. 


"I have the utmost confidence in your patriotism and bravery, 
and with my warmest wishes for your success, 
*'I am, sir. your obedient servant. 

''James Robertson, B. G." 

For some reason unexplained, the army began its march a 
day earHer than the date indicated in the above order. 

They camped the first night on the present site of Murfrees- 
boro. From thence they passed in a southeasterly direction 
through Coflfee County, crossing Barren Fork of Duck River 
not far from the Old Stone Fort which still stands near Manches- 
ter. At a ford south of this they crossed Elk River into Franklin 
County. From there they proceeded over the mountains and 
camped on the Tennessee near where South Pittsburg now stands. 

This journey had consumed several days, and it was now the 
night of the 12th. The larger part of the force remained on the 
east side of the river ; a few crossed over at night to stand guard 
against a possible discovery and an unexpected attack. 

On the morning the I3th^ rafts and floats were constructed, 
and by means of these, together with a few canoes made of dry 
hide, the arms^ ammunition and clothing of the troops were 
conveyed to the other shore. The men swam over on their 
horses, and led by Brown, who was entirely familiar with the 
country, rode rapidly to within sight of Nickajack. The latter 
was a small town at the foot of the mountain, inhabited by two or. 
three hundred warriors and their families. A halt was called 
and the force divided. 

Colonel Whitley with his Kentucky troops swung to the right 
and moved along the base of the mountain. Colonel Montgomery 
with the remainder of the force turned to the left and moved 
down the river. The army thus proceeded in two wdngs in 
order that they might strike the river above and below the town, 
and thereby cut of¥ all avenues of escape save by the water. 


The march was scarcely begxm when some of the party came 
upon two stray ca'bins in the midst of a cornfield. Into these 
some of the troops fired, which shots were returned by the oc- 

These shots alarmed the inhabitants of the village beyond, 
so that when the troops came up many of them had run down to 
the river bank and were embarking in canoes. The rest of their 
number had taken flight toward Running Water town some dis- 
tance above. 

Montgomery and his troops rushed down upon the party 
on the bank. There they found five or six large canoes already 
loaded with goods and Indians. About thirty warriors were 
standing near the water's edge ready to embark. At these Wil- 
liam Pillow fired the first shot, after which the entire force opened 
a deadly fusillade, from the effects of which scarce an Indian es- 
caped. A few dived into the river, and by swimming under 
water got beyond gun range. Two or three hid under goods in 
detached canoes, and escaped by floating down stream. In the 
meantime Colonel Whitley had fallen, with great havoc, upon 
a small portion of the town cut off by a drain about two hundred 
and fifty yards up the river. 

When the warriors of the Running Water town heard the 
firing below they started on a run to the assistance of their neigh- 
bors. Before going far thev met a number of the latter coming 
with equal haste toward them. After some argument the whole 
party went again toward Nickajack. At a place between the 
two towns called the Narrows they encountered the white troops 
who had now followed on. A desperate conflict ensued, each 
party taking refuge behind rocks and trees along the mountain 
side. The Indians were finally routed with great loss by death 
and capture. 

All cabins in the towns were sacked and burned, every vestige 


of both towns being destroyed. Many articles of property recog- 
nized by the militiamen to have formerly belonged to relatives 
and friends were taken. A large quantity of powder and lead 
just received from the Spanish Governor at New Orleans was 
captured. Two fresh scalps, recently taken from the Cumberland 
settlement, and others already dry and hung up as trophies of war 
were found and carried away. 

Of the Indians seventy were killed. Among the dead was 
the noted chief, Breath of Nickajack. About twenty were cap- 
tured. Many of the latter remembered Joseph Brown, whom 
they called "Co-tan-co-ney." They begged him to have their 
lives spared, which, thus obeying the biblical doctrine of returning 
good for evil, he graciously did. 

On the evenmg of the day on which the battle was fought the 
troops recrossed the Tennessee and began their homeward jour- 
ney, none killed and only three of their number wounded. 

Thus ended the "Nickajack Expedition." 

Of the inhaJbitants of Nickajack and Running Water, Dr. 
Ramsey says : "These land pirates had supposed their towns to 
be inaccessible, and were reposing at their ease in conscious secur- 
ity, up to the moment when, under the guidance of Brown, the 
riflemen burst in upon them and dispelled the illusion." 

The backbone of the long Indian war was now broken, and 
peace was in sight. The savages could never rally from the dis- 
astrous effects of the above assault. Other depredations were 
committed, the most notable being the attack on Sevier's station, 
soon to be recorded, but these were probably by roving bands of 
irresponsible marauders. 

Soon after the raid on the lower towns Governor Blount wrote 
to General Robertson an official letter severely criticising his 
act in authorizing the expedition. 

In all probability the Governor was previously advised of 


the entire scheme, and having at last lost faith in the treacherous 
promises of the savages, secretly approved the same. His mo- 
tive in thus censuring General Robertson was probably close akin 
to that which actuated Gen. Frank Cheatham on a certain occa- 
sion during the Late Unpleasantness. While out on a foraging 
expedition one day the writer's father, together with his cousin, 
Frank Hunter, and several other hungry soldiers in Cheatham's 
army, located a hog, penned up in a chimney corner. A carefully 
planned raid was effected, and the next morning found his hog- 
ship dressed, quartered, and distributed among several mess par- 
ties about the camp. 

Just before breakfast time the hog's owner appeared and com- 
plained to General Cheatham of his loss. The latter hastily 
called up the entire troop and demanded the names of the guilty 
parties. Of course, no one could furnish the desired information. 
Thereupon ''Old Frank" stormed and raged in high dudgeon 
about the quarters. He swore by all that was in the heavens 
above and on the earth beneath, to say nothing of what was 
under the seas, that he would have them all court-martialed and 
shot, or find the culprits. 

After this perforrnance had proceeded to some length, the 
owner of the hog departed in great peace of mind^ feeling fully 
compensated for both loss of property and mental suffering occa- 
sioned thereby. When he was gone the General quickly relented, 
and suggested to the boys that while he guessed they needed 
it all. a fresh ham delivered over at his tent would be very accept- 
able, as he was rather "hog hungry" himself. 

Maj. George D. Blackmore, who was in command of a part 
of the troops on the Nickajack expedition, was a native of Hagers- 
town, Md., and served for three years in the war of the Revolu- 
tion. At the close of this conflict he came to the Cumberland coun- 
try, residing for a while at Bledsoe's Station. He vi^as one of the 


gallant defenders of the latter in its assault by the Indians, as 
previously recorded. Later on he commanded what was called a 
horse company, and was also employed as Quartermaster in sup- 
plying provisions for the troops stationed at the various forts. 
He was a brave soldier and an honored citizen. He married 
Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Neely, and reared a large and 
highly respected family. Among them were Dr. James Black- 
more, and Gen. William Blackmore, a hero of the Mexican war. 
The latter was the father of Hon. James W. Blackmore, now a 
prominent citizen of Gallatin. At an early date Major Black- 
more settled on the tract of land now owned by David Barry, 
St., in the Second Civil District of Sumner County. On the 
present site of Mr. Barry's residence he built a settler's log cabin 
in which he lived for many years. He died in 1830, and was 
buried in the family burying ground in sight of his former resi- 

This narrative of bloody atrocities will be closed with an 
account, now to be given, of an attack on Col. \'alentine Sevier's 
Station at noon on November 11, 1794. Though greatly bereaved 
by the loss of his sons, this brave old warrior had determined to 
remain at his post. Accordingly with his little band he began 
clearing new fields and building larger improvements. In the 
meantime a small colony formed on the Cumberland below the 
mouth of the Red River, and thus established the town of Clarks- 

On the day above indicated all the grown men of the station 
were away except Colonel Sevier and a Mr. Snyder. About 
twelve o'clock without warning a band of forty Indians rushed 
out upon them from the neighboring thickets. So sudden was the 
attack that the enemy were in almost every cabin before their 
presence was discovered. Mr. Snyder, his wife, his son John, 
and Colonel Sevier's son, Joseph, were tomahawked in Snyder's 


house. Mrs. Ann King and her son, James, were killed, and 
Colonel Sevier's daughter, Rebecca, was scalped. Snyder, 
though saved from the scalping knife through the efforts of Colo- 
nel Sevier, was butchered in a most barbarous manner. 

The people in the village below, hearing the firing, hastened 
to the relief of the station. On their arrival they found Colonel 
and Mrs. Sevier alone and side by side in the midst of the dead, 
bravely loading and reloading their rifles as they returned the 
fire of the enemy. 

At the approach of reinforcements, the Indians beat a hasty 
retreat, carrying with them the bleeding scalps of a part of their 
victims. The survivors now abandoned the station and removed 
to Clarksville. 

This was the last attack of consequence made on any station 
within the bounds of the territory now included in Middle Ten- 

The destruction wrought in the Nickajack expedition, together 
with the effect of a great victory won on the 20th of August by 
General Wayne over the northern Indians and Canadian militia 
on the banks of the Miami, broke the spirit of the hostile tribes 
and paved the way for a subsequent formation of satisfactory 
treaties of peace. 


Events of i/pfi-i/p6. 



In the fall of 1795, Governor Blount, pursuant to a previous 
act of the Territorial Assembly, ordered a census of the region 


over which he exercised jurisdiction. The returns from the 
Cumberland counties were as follows : Davidson County : Free 
white males, sixteen years and upward, including heads of fam- 
ilies, 728; free white males under sixteen, 695 ; free white females, 
including heads of families, 1,192; all other free persons, 6; 
slaves, 992; total, 3,613. 

Sumner County : Free white males sixteen years and upward, 
including heads of families, 1,382; free white males under six- 
teen, 1,595; f^^^ white females, including heads of families, 2,- 
316: all other free persons, i; slaves, 1,076; total, 6370. 

Tennessee County : Free white males, sixteen years and up- 
ward, including heads of families, 380; free white males under 
sixteen, 444 ; free white females, including heads of families, 700 ; 
all other persons, 19; slaves, 398; total, 1,941. 

For the work of taking the above census in their respective 
counties, N. P. Hardeman, Sheriff of Davidson County, received 
in compensation the sum of $18.06 1-2; Ruben Cage, Sheriff of 
Sumner County, $31.85; and J. B. Neville, Sheriff of Tennessee 
County, $9.70 1-2. 

The population having been determined, proclamation was 
made and election held for five members from each county with- 
in the present bounds of the State. Said delegation should repre- 
sent their constituents in a convention for the formation of a 
constitution preparatory to the admission of the territory as a 
State into the Federal Union. 

On January 11, 1796, the convention assembled at Knoxville. 

The members of the Cumberland settlement were as follows : 
From Davidson County — John McNairy, Andrew Jackson, James 
Robertson, Thomas Hardeman, and Joel Lewis. From Sumner 
County — David Shelby, Isaac Walton, William Douglass, Edward 
Douglass, and Daniel Smith. From Tennessee County — Thomas 
Johnson, James Fort, William Fort, Robert Prince, and William 


Prince. William Blount was unanimously chosen president of the 
convention. At the suggestion of Andrew Jackson the State thus 
formed was given the name of Tennessee. It thus became neces- 
sary for one of the Middle Tennessee Counties to surrender its 
name, which act of generosity was graciously vouched for by its 
delegates in the convention. 

Having completed its labors after a session of twenty-seven 
days, the convention adjourned on February 6. 

It was the opinion of leading men of the time that by reason 
of the original compact between the United States and North 
Carolina, the territory having attained the required population, 
was entitled thus to become a State without the intervention of 
congressional enactment. Accordingly an election for State and 
legislative officers was ordered and held. Col. John Sevier was 
unanimously chosen chief executive, and thus became the first 
Governor of Tennessee. 

The first Legislature of Tennessee convened at Knoxville, 
then the State capital, on March 30, 1796. 

In this body. Gen. James Robertson was Senator from the 
County of Davidson, Gen. James Winchester from Sumner, and 
James Ford from Tennessee County. 

The Representatives from Davidson were Robert Weakley 
and Seth Lewis ; from Sumner, Stephen Cantrell and William 
Montgomery ; and from Tennessee, Thomas Johnson and William 

Indian hostilities having ceased, there was now an immense 
volume of immigration to the western settlement. New counties 
sprang up as if by magic. By an act of the Legislature of 1796, 
the territory comprised in Tennessee County was divided. Out of 
it were formed the counties of Montgomery and Robertson, named 
respectively in honor of Col. John Montgomery and Gen. James 


On May 20, 1796^ a commission composed of William John- 
son, Sr.. John Young, James Norfleet, John Donelson, Jr., and 
Samuel Crockett, selected the present site of Springfield as the 
location of the county seat of Robertson County. 

By the Legislature of 1799 the County of Sumner was re- 
duced to its constitutional limits. From a portion thereof Smith 
County was established and named in honor of General Daniel 
Smith. Its first County Court was held in the house of Maj. 
Tilman Dixon. During the same legislative session, Wilson 
County was formed. It took its name from Maj. David Wilson, 
an early settler of Sumner County, and previously mentioned as 
having been the first speaker of the Territorial Assembly. The 
first court for Wilson County was held at the house of Capt. John 
Harpool. The magistrates there assembled were Charles Kava- 
naugh, John Allcorn, John Lancaster, Elmore Douglass, John 
Doak, Matthew Figures, Henry Ross, William Grey, Andrew 
Donelson and William McClain. 

At this session Robert Foster was elected clerk of the Court, 
Charles Rosborough, Sherifif; John Allcorn, Register; and Wil- 
liam Grey, Ranger. 

In 1803 a region of country south of Davidson and Wilson 
Counties was organized as Rutherford County. This was so 
named in honor of Gen. Griffith Rutherford, a man of great 
worth. He was a native of North Carolina, where during the 
last year of his residence he was an officer in the Revolutionary 
War. His death occurred in Sumner County, of which he was 
at that time a citizen. 

The Congressional Act admitting Tennessee to the privileges 
of Statehood was approved by the President June i, 1796. 

On October 23, 1794, General Robertson resigned his com- 
mission as Brigadier-General in the territorial army. He was 
succeeded by Gen. James Winchester, who was elected in his 
stead the following year. 


Feeling that long public service entitled him to a well earned 
repose, General Robertson now desired only the quietude of pri- 
vate life. He was often called upon to adjust matters of dis- 
pute between the various Indian tribes and the Federal Govern- 

Fie died at the Chickasaw Indian Agency near Alemphis, Sep- 
tember I, 1814, and there he was buried. In 1825 his remains 
were removed to Nashville and re-interred in the Old Cemetery 
beside those of his wife. An imposing monument to his mem- 
ory has recently been erected in Centennial Park, Nashville. Let 
us hope for a speedy coming of the day when the gratitude of 
succeeding generations shall find expression in the form of other 
suitable monuments to the memory of General Robrtson, and 
of all brave pioneers of the Cumberland settlement. 




Bledsoe's Lick 29 

Bledsoe Monument 180 

Blount, Gov. William 153 

Hall, Gov. William 117 

Hall Home, Old 128 

Kizer Mound 7 

Mansker, Kasper, Former Home 52 

Mansker, Kasper and Wife, Graves of 54 

Peyton, Bailie 122 

Robertson, Gen. James 43 

Rock Castle •. 104 

Sevier, Gov. John 146 

Spencer's Choice 35 

Spencer's Tree 33 

Trousdale, Gov. William 192 

Winchester, Gen. James 150 



Asher's Station, Attack on 79 

Boone, Daniel 22 

Big Game at French Lick 26 

Bledsoe's Lick, Discovered 29 

Bledsoe's Station, Attack on 139 

Bledsoe, Col. Anthony, Death of 140 

Bledsoe, Col. Isaac, Death of 179 

Bledsoe's Fort Established 54 

Blujfif Fort Established 49 

Bluff Fort, Attack on 95 

Brown Party, Massacre of 142 

Buchanan's Station, Attack on 173 

Blackmore, Maj. George D 197 

Charleville, Charles ; 18 

Cumberland River Named 19 

Cumberland Settlement Begun 42 

Clark, Gen. George Rogers 44 

Clover Bottom Defeat 81 

Craighead, Rev. Thomas B 117 

Cold Water Expedition 131 

Chota, The City of Refuge 158 

Caney Fork, Battle of 170 

Castleman's Raid 184 

Congress Petitioned 186 

Compact of Government 68 

DeSoto, Ferdinand 12 

DeMonbreun, Timothy 20 

Donelson's Voyage 56 

Donelson, Col. John, Death of 123 

Defeated Creek Attack 120 

Davidson County Established m 

Douglass, Col. Edward 125 

Evans' Battalion 136 

First Indian Settlers 9 

First White Man Killed 26 



First Indian Killed 31 

First Corn Crop Raised ^2 

First Wedding in Colony 88 

First Census Taken 136 

Fort Stanwix, Treaty of 40 

Forts Located 50 

Freeland's Station, Attack on 91 

Greenfield Station, Attack on 182 

Hunters and Traders 17 

Hunting Ground. The 38 

Henderson, Col. Richard 40 

Hall, Maj. William 116 

Hall Family, Massacre of 129 

Indian Tribes, Locations 37 

Indian Warfare, Beginning of 72 

Jackson, Andrew 147 

Kilgore's Station Broken Up 102 

Licks, Their Formation 17 

Lindsay, Isaac, and Party , 24 

Long Hunters, The • : • • 25 

Legislature Organized 201 

Mound Builders 5 

Mississippi River, Discovery of 14 

Mansker. Kasper 51 

Mansker's Party 28 

Mansker's Lick Discovered 30 

IMansker's Station, Attack on 79 

Mero District i53 

McGillivray, Alexander 156 

Natchez, a Spanish Outpost 27 

Nashborough 49 

Nickajack Expedition 190 

Ponce De Leon 12 

Pioiningo. The Mountain Leader 93 

Peyton. John 121 

Robertson, Gen. James 46 

Ren f roe Stationers. Massacre of 77 

Rogan, Hugh 86 



Spanish Adventures 12 

Shawnees, The 9 

Scraggins, Henry, and Party 23 

Stone's River Named 24 

Station Camp Established 28 

Spencer, Thomas Sharp, Adventures of 31 

Spencer, Thomas Sharp, Death of ;^7 

Sycamore Shoals, Treaty of 41 

Settlers, Arrival of, at French Lick 4S 

Smith, Gen. Daniel 103 

Sumner County Established 124 

Sumner County Forts Established 159 

3evier, Col. John 145 

Sevier, Col. Valentine 164 

Sevier's Station, Attack on 198 

Transylvania Company, The 41 

Tennessee County Established 142 

Tennessee Admitted to the Union 202 

Territorial Assembly Meets 185 

Walker, Dr. Thomas and Party 19 

Wallen's Company 22 

White's Creek, Battle of 113 

Winchester, Gen. James 151 

Zigier's Station, Attack on 167 





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